Govt moots 24-hr Plumtree border

BULAWAYO - Government plans to turn the Plumtree Border Post into a 24-hour facility in a bid to improve efficiencies, an official has said.

Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) customs exercise regional manager, Lonto Ndhlovu told a Confederation of Zimbabwe Industry (CZI)’s Matabeleland chamber meeting that her organisation was aware of delays at the border post and was in the process of resolving them.

“We wish to advise that plans are under way to open the Plumtree Border Post 24 hours in the not so distant future,” she said.

Ndhlovu said government was also considering transforming the Plumtree Border into a One-Stop (OSBP) facility.

If implemented, Plumtree will become Zimbabwe’s second 24-hour operating border after Beit Bridge and OSBP after the Chirundu Border Post commissioned in 2009, and then the continent’s first functioning facility.

The main purpose of the Chirundu OSBP is to reduce the costs of cross-border transport by reducing the time taken to cross a border.

The concept is part of efforts by the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) to integrate the economies of the sub-region, and ensure free flow of goods and services.

Harmonisation of customs and transit procedures at regional level is largely viewed as beneficial, especially for landlocked countries such as Zimbabwe in the enhancement of export growth.

Ndlovu said government also intended to put up a new customs post in the Gwanda district for ease of people and goods movement.

“In line with facilitating trade and travel, a new border post will be opened within the Gwanda area that will allow ease way of travel for people in that area,” she said.

“We understand that delays at borders have a negative impact on industry as unnecessary high costs are incurred thereby making the final product uncompetitive.”

Some studies in the sub-Sahara region have revealed that 25 percent of delays were at entry points and customs related.

“Working together, we should be able to ensure that as a country we are not counted in this category,” said Ndlovu.

“We want to ensure that goods and travelling public spend minimum time possible at borders.”

Experts say countries transporting their consignments through the Beit Bridge Border Post are losing business worth between $29,3 million and $35 million annually due to delays and congestion at the port of entry.

They say it is critical to improve the operational effectiveness of the border post through the establishment and effective implementation of an OSBP.

It is said implementation of the one-stop concept at the port of entry would improve the flow of commercial goods and services including people. - Bulawayo Correspondent

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