HARARE - Government has moved a step further in its plans to establish a National Ports Authority (NPA) that would regulate all entries into the country, improve infrastructure and clear bottlenecks at the points of entry, a Cabinet minister has said.
In an interview with the Daily News, minister of Transport and Communication Joram Gumbo said the authority will regulate all operations at the country’s borders.
“So there is a new bill which is coming, the Border Post Authority, which will be regulating everything and it must be passed by Parliament as an Act, presently is with the Attorney-General’s office.
“There will always be Zimra (Zimbabwe Revenue Authority), Zinara (Zimbabwe National Roads Administration), ministry of Health, ministry of Agriculture operating at the borders and those are already operational, but this board will come to regulate their operations.”
A ports authority is a government or quasi-government public authority formed by a legislative body to operate ports and other transportation infrastructure.
Gumbo said the authority, together with the mooted revamping of seven of the country’s 15 border posts operated by Zimra, would ultimately improve efficiency at the country’s points of entry.
“On a daily basis, about 5 000 people and a minimum of 400 cars cross the border (Beitbridge Border Post) and we need to make sure there is a smooth flow of everything,” said Gumbo.
During the official opening of Parliament last year, President Robert Mugabe said the Authority would lead to free tourist movement as well as attract investors and facilitate for the easier movement of goods in and out of the country.
However, Zimra commissioner-general Gershem Pasi, is on record saying the country could not afford to create a Border Post Authority as it does not have the resources to build the infrastructure.
The Zimra chief told a news conference last year that Zimra was struggling to meet revenue collecting targets and there was no money to spare for the ports project.
“So far, the authority has collected $468,53 million against a target of $542 million… while there have been talks by government of creating a Ports Authority but it is not necessary at the moment because we will be creating additional expenditure,” Pasi said then.
He also noted that it was not the very idea of a ports authority that translated into financial burden, but the structures relevant to the running of the authority.