35,000 return to SA through Beitbridge in 24 hours as travellers face delays

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‘We’re constantly liaising with our South African counterparts to expedite the movement of people’

Travelling chaos … Motorists wait for their turn on road leading to the Zimbabwe side of the Beitbridge border post

BEITBRIDGE – Travellers are facing lengthy delays at the country’s busiest port of entry at Beitbridge as tens of thousands return to South Africa after the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.

Border authorities say they processed a staggering 35,000 people on Saturday alone as travellers faced delays of up to eight hours under punishing temperatures.

Queues stretching as far back as two kilometres have formed at the border since New Year’s day as Zimbabweans return to South Africa, where many have jobs.

Nqobile Ncube, the assistant regional immigration officer in charge of Beitbridge, said they had witnessed a surge in South Africa-bound human and vehicular traffic.

The congestion was largely a result of delays on the South African side, he maintained.

“We had an average of 25,000 people a day travelling between the two countries in the early part of December. We hit 34,000 on Saturday with 25,899 being exits, but this should drop by midnight on Monday,” Ncube told reporters on Sunday.

Ncube said on Saturday, they had cleared over 4,000 cars and nearly 200 buses.

“We’re constantly liaising with our South African counterparts to expedite the movement of people, especially those travelling in buses which have taken much of the parking space at the border,” Ncube said.

“They have assured us that they are beefing up staff. As usual we advise people, especially those returning to work, to set-off well ahead of time and be prepared for delays.”

Millions of Zimbabweans have made South Africa home in the last three decades, forced to abandon their homes due to a shortage of jobs, repression and an extended economic slump.

Going nowhere fast … Thousands of cars in queues stretching more than 2km at Beitbridge on Saturday

BY SIPHO MABUZA Zimlive

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