By Tichaona Kurewa
OFFICIALS at the country’s ports of entry say they are ready to serve increased numbers of travellers after the government re-opened land borders for the general public.
When the ZBC News crew visited Victoria Falls Border Post this Tuesday, there was still limited human traffic after restrictions on non-essential travel were lifted on Monday.
The numbers are however expected to increase in the next few days, with Acting Regional Immigration Officer North Western Region, Innocent Hamandishe indicating that the department has put in place measures to cope with the anticipated increase in the number of travellers.
“We are geared to start clearing large volumes of travellers, following the announcement of the General Notice 421 OF 2022 by the Minister of Home Affairs and subsequently the communication we received from our immigration headquarters. Our preparedness is generally based on the recent pronouncement by the Public Service Commission that all Civil Servants must report for duty which applies to us as a Department of Immigration, we have since recalled all our staff members, and they are now all on duty. Having opened the borders for the general public starting at 0600 hrs today, we have since informed all our staff members, we have also informed our stakeholders locally that we operate with and also our stakeholders across the border. This is how prepared we are, I can say we are now prepared,” he said.
Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) and Port Health officials also confirmed their readiness to serve the anticipated increase in human traffic.
“ZIMRA has prepared and is ready for travel flows at all border posts to return to normal. All border posts have recalled all staff back to work and will remain open in line with the currently gazetted hours of operation, with all shifts fully staffed. As usual, should there be a spike in traffic flows at any particular border post, contingency arrangements have always been in place for the provision of relief staff from other stations to beef up staff complements to manage increased traffic flows. Beitbridge and Plumtree Border Posts, which usually have the highest traffic inflows, are being closely monitored to enable swift response to any sudden shifts inflows,” said ZIMRA Acting Commissioner General, Regina Chinamasa.
Land borders were closed for the general public two years ago to contain the spread of COVID-19, with only those with permits to live or work in other countries and commercial cargo being allowed passage.