Civil works for the Beitbridge Border Post modernisation under Phase 2, which includes a bus terminal, have begun in earnest.

Zimborders Consortium, in partnership with the Government of Zimbabwe, is upgrading Sadc’s busiest inland port of entry at a cost of US$300 million under a 17 and half-years build operate and transfer concession.

The works are being carried out in three phases which include the freight terminal (phase 1), the bus terminal (phase 2) and the light vehicles terminal (phase 3).

Zimborders Consortium chief executive officer Mr Francois Diedrechsen said they had moved to phase two after successfully completing the new freight terminal which opened to traffic last month.

“We are now working on the second phase of the project, which is the bus terminal and that is fully underway,” said Mr Diedrechsen.

“This phase is scheduled for completion by mid-May next year and from then we will move to Phase 3, which is the construction of the light vehicles terminal.

Although Zimborders started with a few teething challenges, the freight terminal was now operating smoothly with transit times significantly lower than at Kazungula and better than it has been in the past decades.

Volumes of commercial trucks through Beitbridge have also picked up over the last few weeks as transporters have returned to the route given the much-improved transit times.

Zimborders is now clearing more than 900 trucks daily compared to the average of 750 handled daily in September and early October.

In addition to the three phases within the border, we are carrying out some out-of-port infrastructure and these are at varying stages of completion,” said Mr Diedrechsen.

Some of the out-of-port works include the construction of 264 houses for border workers, an animal quarantine facility, fire station, sewer oxidation dam, upgrading water infrastructure in the town, and the construction of a new water reservoir tank.

Zimborders is looking at an improved border efficiency system under a modernised port of entry.

Mr Diedrechsen said the cooperation between Zimborders and the various Government agencies at the border was improving by each day in line with the envisaged objectives of the concession.

Before the drop in business triggered by Covid-19, the border post was carrying 1 200 commercial trucks, 3 500 light vehicles, 15 000 travellers, and 120 buses daily and it is estimated that upon completion of the current works, the facility will have capacity for up to five times these volumes.