Zimbabwe-Mozambique Border Post Opens Round-the-Clock to Boost Trade

The move is expected to ease congestion, facilitate trade, and enhance regional integration between the two neighbouring countries.

by Motoni Olodun

Zimbabwe and Mozambique have agreed to open their border post at Forbes/Machipanda 24 hours a day, starting today, in a move that is expected to ease congestion, facilitate trade, and enhance regional integration.

The Forbes/Machipanda border post, located about 100 kilometers from the eastern city of Mutare, is one of the busiest ports of entry in Zimbabwe, serving almost half of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region. It is also a key transit point for goods from the port of Beira in Mozambique to landlocked countries such as Zambia, Malawi, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

According to the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA), the border post is clearing about 550 haulage trucks every day, but the demand is much higher, resulting in long queues and delays that affect business operations and revenue collection.

The decision to extend the operating hours from 12 to 24 was reached after consultations between the two governments and various stakeholders, including transport operators, clearing agents, importers, and cross-border traders.

The Transport Operators Association of Zimbabwe (TOAZ) and the Transport Operating Industry (NECTOI) welcomed the development, saying it will help remove the bottleneck that the border post had become on the corridor.

“We have been talking to ZIMRA and Alfandega (Mozambique’s customs authority) and making these recommendations for a long time now and we would like to thank both the governments of Zimbabwe and Mozambique for this development. We welcome this with both arms and hope it will help improve the flow of business and address the long queues,” said Mr Albert Bere, the chairperson of both associations.

The Zimbabwe Cross Border Traders Association (ZCBTA) also expressed excitement over the move, saying it will ensure positive development and ease of doing business.

“This is a welcome development. We are quite excited. Increasing hours will make businesses run efficiently. Long queues were affecting business operations. We are glad that this move will ensure that trade between these two countries will scale up,” said Mr Augustine Tawanda, the secretary-general of ZCBTA.

The owner of Phils and Pats Tankers, Mr. Watson Mukumba, said the trucks will be moving and offloading on time, adding that the government’s initiative is an effort to boost trade between the two countries.

“We are excited with the move. Trucks will be on time when carrying out business activities. The initiative is a great sign that will enhance trade between Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Business activities need to be carried out efficiently while time conscious on the other hand. We are happy and we expect this to continue operating,” he said.

Analyst Dr. Hamadziripi Dube said the opening of the border for 24 hours will make businesses flow smoothly, adding that it is in line with the Second Republic’s mantra of ease of doing business.

He also added that the move will ensure the availability of goods and services within the two countries.

“Trucks are used to carry out important business activities. This is a way of improving the business mantra in Zimbabwe. This will also ensure that there will be communication the whole day, but we appeal to the authorities that all borders should open for 24 hours to ensure that trade businesses continue operating well,” he said.

A cross-border trader who resides in Warren Park 1, Mrs. Esnath Mandebvu, said the 24-hour service will help the country grow its gross domestic product as a result of increased revenue due to heightened economic activities such as taxes, levies, and fees charged to those using the point of entry.

“It will help unlock the country’s potential as more revenue will now accrue owing to various fees that will be levied directly and indirectly. ZIMRA will collect more revenue due to increased activities as service providers will respond by extending their operating times,” she said.

The extension of the border post’s operating hours comes at a time when the two countries are also working on upgrading the road infrastructure along the corridor to improve connectivity and reduce travel time.

The governments of Zimbabwe and Mozambique, with support from the African Development Bank and other development partners, are implementing the Beira Corridor Roads Rehabilitation Project, which covers about 600 kilometers of road network.

The project aims to rehabilitate and upgrade the road sections from Mutare to Nyamapanda in Zimbabwe and from Machipanda to Nhamatanda in Mozambique, as well as construct a one-stop border post at Forbes/Machipanda.

The project is expected to be completed by 2025 and will benefit about 1.6 million people in the two countries.

The Forbes/Machipanda border post, which was initially established as a tourist clearing point before independence, has now evolved to become a major gateway for regional trade and integration.

The opening of the border post for 24 hours is a testament to the strong bilateral relations and cooperation between Zimbabwe and Mozambique, which share a long history of friendship and solidarity.

The two countries are members of the SADC and the African Union and have signed several agreements and memoranda of understanding in various sectors, including trade, energy, agriculture, mining, tourism, defense, and security.

They are also working together to promote peace and stability in the region, especially in the face of the insurgency in Mozambique’s northern province of Cabo Delgado, where Zimbabwe has deployed troops to support the Mozambican forces.

As the two neighbors celebrate the opening of their border post for 24 hours, they also look forward to more opportunities and benefits that will come from their enhanced partnership and collaboration.

Source: All Africa


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