Hoteliers bemoan delays at Forbes, Machipanda

MUTARE - Hoteliers are calling on government to expedite the establishment of a one-stop-border-post (OSBP) at Forbes and Machipanda border posts in the face of growing complaints from tourists who are spending long hours at the entry points.

Although Zimbabwe piloted the OSBP concept some time back, it has fallen behind in terms of its implementation.

As the authorities continue to dither, countries such as Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda have gone ahead of Zimbabwe to implement the concept, reaping huge rewards in the process.

The benefits include improved trade, the smooth movement of tourists, cross-border traders and freight traffic.

Veteran hotelier, Gordon Addams, told the Eastern News this week that tourists were enduring lengthy delays at Machipanda and Forbes, which connect Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

This is eating into their vacating time.

“There are many complaints of delays of border traffic not only because of the horrendous heavy duty traffic as some tourists report of having been delayed for up to two hours on the Mozambican side and a further two hours on the Zimbabwean side, which is bad for holiday-makers, particularly if they have children,” Addams said.

He said Zimbabwe should pursue greater cooperation with its neighbours through the setting up of a OSBP.

“We should have more cooperation with our neighbours as we have seen an improvement with Zambia,” he said.

Zimbabwe has a pilot OSBP at Chirundu, shared with Zambia.

Musangano Lodge general manager, Leonard Bwanya, said the delays constituted red flags for international tourists.

“No one will repeat a visit to an area where they will have an entire day wasted seating in a queue to enter a country considering that employers are giving their employees far less time to vacate.

“Tourists are now very conscious of their time and we are struggling to even get good tourist traffic in the eastern highlands because of our lack of air connectivity,” Bwanya said.

Government has since constituted a technical team called the Border Efficiency Management Systems (BEMS) comprising representatives from the ministry of Industry and Commerce and other government ministries, parastatals, the private sector and development partners to get the project off the ground.

BEMS revealed recently that it was still drafting the legal framework and procedure manual for the project even as other countries that have adopted OSBP are reaping huge benefits.

Team leader, Constance Zhanje, said Zimbabwe was first in Africa to implement the concept at Chirundu Border Post as a pilot project with the assistance of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa and other development partners.

“Most countries north of us came to learn from Chirundu OSBP and today countries such as Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda, among others, have implemented this concept at most of their ports of entry and exit. They are reaping the benefits of OSBP,” Zhanje said.

Once the OSBP has been implemented, travellers and cargo would be cleared once for both entry and exit in either country.

Currently, these processes are being duplicated on both sides of the border, causing lengthy delays at entry points.