SA ports of entry upgrade on the way

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South Africa’s six busiest ports of entry – all land-based – are in line for an upgrade to make them more people and trade friendly, Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi told a media briefing earlier this month (September).

The ports of entry earmarked for betterment via development in public/private partnerships (PPPs) are Beitbridge – Zimbabwe; Lebombo – Mozambique; Maseru Bridge – Lesotho; Ficksburg – Lesotho; Kopfontein – Botswana; and Oshoek – Eswatini.

Explaining the redevelopment rationale, the Minister said: “South Africa’s ports of entry were designed during the apartheid era with the primary objective of tightened security while neglecting effective facilitation of regional and international trade. It is not an over exaggeration to state that when you visit our land ports of entry, between us and our SADC (Southern African Development Community) neighbours, the South African side of the border looks like informal settlements while the other side looks like Sandton”.

The redeveloped ports of entry will, according to Motsoaledi, see efficient cross-border management of movement of people, goods and services as well as “improved administration” of people entering and leaving South Africa. He named economic plusses – better regional integration, enhanced support for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA); improved revenue collection and “addressing leakages” from illegal movement of goods and illicit financial flows and protecting local industry from harmful imports and exports as well.

“Effective migration management” including “curbing” illegal migration is, the Minister has it, another plus from the redeveloped ports of entry.

The six ports of entry project will cover full infrastructure development of each designated port of entry and provision of the necessary services to ensure “coherent and co-ordinated support of institutional functions of all organs of State present at the port of entry”.

Construction will be in phases to ensure ongoing operations at each of the designated ports of entry are not interrupted. During construction, the project is expected to create 38 000 jobs in areas around the six designated ports of entry.

Department of Home Affairs (DHA) officials will, the Minister said, “unpack the request for proposals (RfPs)” to bidders on 27 September. He expects the latest in technology, such as gamma ray machines which “can pick up anything from illicit cigarettes, liquor, paper money and human beings” to be included in the redevelopment bids.

Also on the border front, the newest addition to South Africa’s security architecture – the Border Management Authority (BMA) – will be officially launched in the border town Musina on 5 October. The BMA, according to government’s Department of Communications, “came into effect” on 1 April this year as South Africa’s “third law enforcement authority”. President Cyril Ramaphosa is “expected” to be present at the Musina showgrounds launch event.