Thousands stuck at chaotic Beitbridge border post

biti_finance_missingConditions at Beitbridge have been described as chaotic and depressing by Finance Minister Tendai Biti (pictured), after he visited the border post on Monday. Accompanied by transport minister Nicholas Goche, Biti said he was shocked to see thousands of people stuck for hours between South Africa an

As always the holidays bring thousands more travelers passing between the two countries. An estimated 17,000 are reported to have been passing into Zimbabwe every day this month, compared to just 2,000 per day throughout the rest of the year. Last weekend 55,190 visitors were cleared to enter the Zimbabwe and 21,738 passed into South Africa.

Immigration officials at Beitbridge, as usual, are struggling to deal with the numbers of people and vehicles, because of their old equipment and slow bureaucratic methods. Many officials are allegedly taking advantage of desperate travelers by asking for bribes in order to speed up their journey.

Zimbabwean writer and journalist Geoff Hill, who is based in South Africa, confirmed reports of the chaos, saying it is the same every year. He told SW Radio Africa that one of his colleagues who left South Africa on Monday, took 17 hours to cross into Zimbabwe at the border post.

Hill explained that Beitbridge gets very crowded because it is also a transit route for people going to Zambia and Malawi. The immigration office is small and all traffic is funneled through one narrow lane. The only way to increase capacity would be to add more officers and more desks.

Regarding reports that travelers are forced to use any available spaces to relieve themselves, Hill said: There is nothing else people can do. There is a lot of open bush space on either side but I have not heard of any outbreak of disease.

After ruling Zimbabwe for 30 years Robert Mugabe and ZANU PF have failed to install basic computer systems at the countrys busiest border post.

A project is reported to be underway to computerize the systems, but that is being financed by an international NGO, who financed similar projects at the airport in Harare and Victoria Falls.

Another indication of how Robert Mugabe and ZANU PF invest nothing in the infrastructure of Zimbabwe.

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