Congestion-easing pilot system coming to Lebombo port of entry

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South Africa’s Border Management Authority (BMA) is, in conjunction with the SA Revenue Service (SARS), working on ways and means of easing traffic congestion at the main port of entry linking Mozambique to its western neighbour.

The government entities have, SAnews reports, signed an agreement which will see a pilot system aimed at “eliminating delay” at the busy port of entry 5 km from Komatipoort in Mpumalanga and adjacent to Ressano Garcia in Mozambique.

Access to the port of entry from the South African side is, reports have it, nightmarish, with queues of trucks and other vehicles stretching for kilometres. This is, again reportedly, exacerbated by hours of queueing for passport and other documentation approval, including load verification. Other factors contributing to excessive time spent waiting for exit approval are increased road cargo volumes and protests involving taxi and truck drivers. These, SAnews reports, caused “long queues for trucks” and “prevented smooth flow of trade through the port”.

All that is set to end when the nuts and bolts of the agreement, signed during a recent Mozambique/South Africa bilateral, become reality.

The “collaboration”, to use SAnews’ terminology, will see “efficient and co-ordinated interventions for easy and cost effective facilitation of legitimate trade and travel while preventing illegal border crossing of goods and people”.

A system using the “canopies”, presumably carport-type roofs at the port of entry, will see truck drivers “processed” without having to leave their vehicles. Drivers have to have “all required customs documents and immigration passport ready when approaching canopies”. If cleared and not needed for inspection by police, agricultural services, environmental or port health, drivers move to the exit. Passport control will be done by BMA officials “at the canopies” and not, as was previously done, at a separate building.

“The aim of this process is to eliminate the time spent in the bypass where drivers were previously required to disembark from trucks and walk to building 310 for passport processing. It is also envisaged that through this process the turnaround time for trucks moving through the bypass will be reduced,” SAnews reports.

BMA Commissioner Michael Masiapato is reported as saying the new process will “not negate the requirement by authorities to perform their functions for compliance and border law enforcement at ports [of entry]”.