‘Cross border buses af­ter Xmas’

VID road tests re­sume

Sunday News (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page - Mun­yaradzi Musi­iwa Sun­day News Re­porter

ZIM­BABWE is set to re-open more land bor­ders af­ter a team of se­nior Govern­ment of­fi­cials was dis­patched to as­sess the state of af­fairs at the port of en­tries/exit ahead of the grad­ual open­ing.

Two weeks ago, the coun­try re-opened its side of the Beit­bridge Border Post but only to al­low Zim­bab­wean ci­ti­zens in South Africa to re­turn home. The border is also pro­cess­ing out­bound Zim­bab­weans with valid South African per­ma­nent res­i­dence and other per­mits such as work and stu­dent per­mits who are also now al­lowed to cross into South Africa and back home.

Zim­bab­weans in South Africa pop­u­larly known as in­jiva are also now al­lowed back home without any re­stric­tions or spe­cial clear­ance in a move that would see some lo­cals who had been stuck in the negh­bour­ing coun­try flock­ing back home.

How­ever, it has emerged that the Govern­ment is now mov­ing to re-open other land bor­ders to pas­sen­ger traf­fic. The lat­est de­vel­op­ments are be­ing im­ple­mented as per last week’s Cabi­net di­rec­tive that teams be sent to all border posts to as­sess the state of readi­ness and rec­om­mend in­ter­ven­tions af­ter tak­ing in­put from all stake­hold­ers on the ground.

Sun­day News un­der­stands that the teams are vis­it­ing Beit­bridge, Forbes, Chirundu, Kariba, Vic­to­ria Falls, Kazun­gula, and Nyama­panda border posts. The teams com­prise se­nior civil ser­vants from min­istries of For­eign Af­fairs and In­ter­na­tional Trade, En­vi­ron­ment, Cli­mate Change, Tourism and Hospi­tal­ity, Pub­lic Ser­vice, Labour and So­cial Wel­fare, Higher and Ter­tiary Ed­u­ca­tion, Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy De­vel­op­ment, De­fence and War Veter­ans, and Lo­cal Govern­ment and Pub­lic Works.

Beit­bridge’s team leader, Mr Stewart Nyako­tyo who is the Direc­tor Le­gal and Con­sul Af­fairs in the Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs and In­ter­na­tional Trade said their mis­sion in­volves tak­ing sub­mis­sions from border ac­tors and prac­ti­cal as­sess­ment of cur­rent op­er­a­tions.

“We have started en­gag­ing var­i­ous stake­hold­ers at Beit­bridge to as­sess the re­sources, op­er­a­tion pro­pos­als, state of man­power, pro­posed time frames for re-open­ing, cur­rent op­er­a­tional chal­lenges, and what they need to get things mov­ing. Af­ter which we are go­ing to have a prac­ti­cal feel on the ground of what they have and the short­com­ings. We will then make rec­om­men­da­tions to the Na­tional Covid-19 Task Force which will then merge our find­ings and rec­om­men­da­tions with those from other teams. This will then be taken to Cabi­net to guide de­ci­sion mak­ing,” said Mr Nyako­tyo.

Speak­ing dur­ing the con­sul­ta­tion, border stake­hold­ers pro­posed that the Govern­ment should con­sider a phased border open­ing be­fore al­low­ing all and sundry through the bor­ders. They said those trav­el­ling in pri­vate ve­hi­cles should start in the first phase this year with pub­lic trans­port be­ing the last be­fore the end of the first quar­ter of 2021. The im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cer-in-charge of Beit­bridge Mr Nqo­bile Ncube said:

“It is only pru­dent to go with the phased route con­sid­er­ing the cur­rent state of af­fairs here where we are bat­tling with the com­mer­cial trucks with South Africa hav­ing re-opened their bor­ders. You will note that in 2019, we cleared 5, 3 mil­lion peo­ple at this border with 14 000 pass­ing through daily and we could have more peo­ple if we open at full throt­tle con­sid­er­ing that peo­ple have not been mov­ing for over six months.”

He said a suc­cess­ful re-open­ing of the land bor­ders will de­pend on the Govern­ment’s re­source base to at­tend to all the safety mea­sures as pro­posed by the border stake­hold­ers. The Zim­babwe Rev­enue Au­thor­ity (Zimra) shift man­ager, Mr Jeri­cho Run­dogo said the cur­rent civil works to up­grade the border post had left them with lim­ited op­er­a­tion space and hence the need to stag­ger the open­ing.

“Cur­rently we are us­ing pri­vate cars and bus lanes to clear com­mer­cial cargo. Imag­ine what will hap­pen if we open to full strength. So our pro­posal is let’s have small/pri­vate cars which are easy to man­age to come through and we look at pub­lic trans­port af­ter the fes­tive sea­son to avoid a chaotic sce­nario,” he said.

Beit­bridge District Med­i­cal Of­fi­cer Dr Lenos Samhere said they were still in dis­cus­sions with four pri­vate lab­o­ra­to­ries who want to set up shop in the border town to boost the test­ing of trav­ellers leav­ing and en­ter­ing the coun­try through Beit­bridge.

He said they had since re­quested for more Poly­merase chain re­ac­tion (PCR) test­ing and au­to­mated screen­ing ma­chines to boost ser­vice de­liv­ery and min­imise de­lays at the port of en­try.

THE Ve­hi­cle In­spec­tion Depart­ment (VID) will from to­mor­row start con­duct­ing road tests and is­su­ing driver’s li­cences af­ter close to six months of clo­sure.

The clo­sure of VID in March af­ter the Govern­ment in­tro­duced a na­tional lock­down due to Covid-19, had left hun­dreds of learn­ers and prospec­tive learner drivers in a quandary. The Govern­ment, how­ever, ex­tended the va­lid­ity of pro­vi­sional driv­ing li­cences and de­fen­sive driv­ing cer­tifi­cates by six months giv­ing room for hold­ers to re­main el­i­gi­ble for test­ing. This was done through SI 144 of 2020. Ide­ally, pro­vi­sional li­cences have a one-year life­span from the date of is­sue.

SI 144 of 2020 also known as Pub­lic Health (Covid-19 Pre­ven­tion, Con­tain­ment and Treat­ment) (Na­tional Lock­down) (Amend­ment) Or­der, 2020 (No. 11) gave pro­vi­sional li­cence hold­ers six more months in ad­di­tion to the one-year pe­riod the doc­u­ment is valid to com­pen­sate for time lost dur­ing the lock­down.

The Min­istry of Trans­port and In­fras­truc­tural De­vel­op­ment has since is­sued a circular to VID de­pots in­struct­ing them to start con­duct­ing tests and is­sue drivers li­cences from to­mor­row. Per­ma­nent Sec­re­tary in the Min­istry of Trans­port and In­fras­truc­tural De­vel­op­ment En­gi­neer Amos Marawa told Sun­day News that VID had fi­nalised de­vel­op­ing the Covid-19 op­er­at­ing guide­lines and stan­dard op­er­at­ing pro­ce­dures which are in line with the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion (WHO) guide­lines and were ap­proved by the Na­tional Task Force on Covid-19 and Cabi­net. Eng Marawa said de­spite the go ahead, VID will con­tinue op­er­at­ing un­der the pre­scribed modus operandi dur­ing the Covid-19 in­duced lock­down pe­riod.

“VID has de­vel­oped Covid-19 op­er­at­ing guide­lines and stan­dard op­er­at­ing pro­ce­dures which are in line with WHO guide­lines and were ap­proved by the Na­tional Task Force on Covid-19 and Cabi­net. These will guide the op­er­a­tions of VID dur­ing the Covid-19 pan­demic,” he said.

Mean­while, the In­sur­ance Coun­cil of Zim­babwe (ICZ) has an­nounced that the Cen­tral Ve­hi­cle Reg­istry’s (CVR) has no ca­pac­ity to is­sue ad­e­quate ve­hi­cle reg­is­tra­tion li­cences. In a pre­sen­ta­tion dur­ing a vir­tual train­ing of journalist­s, ICZ rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mr Tendai Karonga said there were 80 000 un­reg­is­tered ve­hi­cles in the coun­try yet the CVR has the ca­pac­ity to is­sue 32 000 reg­is­tra­tion plates up to the end of the year. This comes at a time when crimes of rob­bery per­pe­trated by mo­torists us­ing un­reg­is­tered ve­hi­cles are on the in­crease.

“Per­for­mance of mo­tor in­sur­ance was fur­ther af­fected by the Cen­tral Ve­hi­cle Reg­istry’s (CVR) in­abil­ity to regis­ter ve­hi­cles due to lack of fi­nan­cial re­sources to pro­duce reg­is­tra­tion plates. This re­sulted in about 80 000 un­reg­is­tered and unin­sured ve­hi­cles on the roads lead­ing to a loss of the manda­tory Third-Party Mo­tor pre­mi­ums of ap­prox­i­mately Z$60 mil­lion. Statis­tics are based on the CVR Reg­is­trar’s Re­port to the Par­lia­men­tary Trans­port Com­mit­tee on 28 Septem­ber 2020. The sit­u­a­tion might per­sist as CVR has fi­nan­cial re­sources to pro­vide plates for 32 000 ve­hi­cles leav­ing more than 48 000 un­reg­is­tered,” said Mr Karonga.

Pas­sen­gers dis­em­bark from a cross border bus in Bu­l­awayo in this file photo

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