The Beitbridge Border Post is finally being modernised, a move that could help Zimbabwe salvage something from losses incurred through the diversion of traffic to Kazungula Bridge.
The Zimbabwean government poured US$300 million to see the Beitbridge Border Post modernised in a bid to address the bottlenecks which often see haulage trucks stuck for days on end waiting to be served.
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The Beitbridge port is the busiest transit port for cargo from South Africa destined for Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and often as far as Tanzania.
According to the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA), the upgrade is taking shape, with the freight terminal expected to be up and running by the end of September 2021.
The freight terminal will constitute phase one of the border upgrade and will be used predominantly by commercial vehicles crossing into and out of Zimbabwe.
A situation analysis carried out in 2009 showed that the waiting time at the border was about 33 hours for southbound traffic while for northbound traffic waiting time was about 45 hours.
It was estimated that the cost associated with waiting time was about US$29.3 million for the Southbound and US$35 million for Northbound traffic per year.
The renovations are happening when Zambia and Botswana have completed and launched Kaungula Bridge which bypasses Zimbabwe.
Kazungula Bridge offers an alternative route for road transporters from South Africa to Zambia and other northern countries in the region.
It is shorter to travel from Johannesburg to Lusaka, Zambia, through Beitbridge (1 525km) compared to 1 730km via Kazungula, but Zimbabwe’s poor road network, congestion and long winding queues especially at Beitbridge, might compel truckers to avoid Zimbabwe.
That could result in Zimbabwe losing billions of dollars.
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