Committee welcomes measures to ease congestion at borders, suggests alternative

13th January 2021 By: Simone Liedtke - Writer

The Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs is of the view that the implementation of a “one-stop border post” with neighbouring countries and the establishment of the Border Management Authority (BMA) will be a solution to the challenges experienced at Beitbridge, between South Africa and Zimbabwe.
 
“To alleviate the perpetual crisis at this border, the government must move with speed to implement an already agreed policy position to establish a one-stop border post. The tardiness in implementing this policy position is both unacceptable and a contributing factor to problems at this port of entry,” said Advocate Bongani Bongo.
 
The aim of a one-stop border post is to improve the efficiency of movement at the port of entry, as the efficiency of movement of people and goods is critical to achieving the objectives of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.

The portfolio committee also said on January 13 that a one-stop border post would ensure that South Africa and its neighbouring countries operate on a similar platform.

The committee believes the BMA will be an added force in handling the high volume of people and goods at the port of entry.

“The agency will also solve the challenge of various departments that operate in silos and will impact on the general operation at the port of entry,” Bongo averred.

The committee believes that, had there been adequate plans in place, the increased truck volumes would have been anticipated at Beitbridge.

However, it also added that appropriate planning “would have ensured that there is adequate provision of health officials to assist with health screening at Beitbridge”.

Despite these challenges, the committee welcomed the interventions by the South African government in resolving some of these challenges that were encountered.

What is needed in the short- to medium-term, however, is to ensure that some of those solutions are strengthened while implementation of the one-stop border post and BMA is awaited.
 
The committee also welcomed the decision by Cabinet to close the 20 land ports to the public as a means to reduce congestion and the high risk of transmission.