Tuesday, 3 November 2020

STRANDED PASSENGERS : ZIMRA CAVES IN

THE Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) staff in Beitbridge have finally processed the customs procedures for 366 Zimbabweans returning from South Africa in 12 buses whom they had refused to clear on Sunday.

The group was later given an all-clear at around 7PM after having arrived at 8AM on Sunday. The revenue collector had told the returnees that it had not started clearing passengers in buses.

After consulting other border authorities and the Zimra Head Office in Harare, the officials then cleared the passengers.

The travellers had to endure long hours at the border although they had already been cleared for re-entry by the Department of Immigration.

“They left the border between 6 and 7PM on Sunday after consultations among border stakeholders and the Zimra top management in Harare.

“This was a very unnecessary delay and inconvenience of fellow Zimbabweans,” said a member of the Border Efficiency and management committee.

Zimra’s spokesperson, Mr Francis Chimanda had not responded to media inquiries by the end of the day yesterday.

The Government clarified last month that Zimbabweans may now return from South Africa via Beitbridge without having to seek authorisation from the Zimbabwean Embassy or the South African government.

South Africa opened 18 of its 35 land borders to passenger traffic on 1 October and Zimbabwe will gradually open its borders to passenger traffic, mainly motorists in private vehicles and pedestrians.

At the moment, only Zimbabweans based in South Africa and those foreigners with valid residents or work permits are allowed entry into the country while South Africans and Zimbabweans who are holders of the neighbouring country’s permits are allowed to exit.

Before the lockdown in April, about 600 000 travellers crossed Beitbridge border post monthly.

The figure is likely to increase after December 1 when more people travel considering that it is a transit port for those from Malawi, Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania.

Plumtree, Victoria Falls, Chirundu, Nyamapanda, and Forbes are some of the borders which will be reopened in phases next month. Chronicle

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