SA, Lesotho Ministers inspect border operations

Home Affairs Minister Siyabonga Cwele and his Lesotho counterpart Minister Tsukutlane Au visited the Maseru Bridge Port of Entry on Monday.

The walkabout was aimed at monitoring port operations on both sides of the busy border. The border experiences a high number of traveller movements for schooling, business and visits.

“Managing migration is one of the key ways in which we can contribute [to] growing South Africa. The cooperation with Lesotho is helping us to manage migration and helps our people transit through the port,” said Minister Cwele.

He said facilitating the ease of travel for people and goods was very important for trade within the Southern Africa Development Community.

Following the visit to the border post, the two ministers sat down for a meeting to discuss progress made in the implementation of the Intervention Plan on Traffic Congestion at Maseru Bridge Port of Entry.

“The interventions were implemented in earnest in December 2018 and these have proven to be successful,” said the Department of Home Affairs.

The department said some of the successes of the plan include the introduction of immigration processing by Lesotho authorities; the fast tracking of the Lesotho Special Dispensation Project (LSP) people, students and mineworkers at dedicated counters during peak periods as well as dedicated lanes for business travellers into Maseru and scholars into South Africa from 6am to 9am and 5pm to 7pm.

The meeting on Monday also considered the implementation of the LSP, which was introduced to manage the movement of certain categories of low skilled Basotho into South Africa, and is scheduled to expire at the end of December 2019.

The meeting initiated discussions on what will happen after the expiry of the special dispensation, said the department. Further engagements are scheduled over the coming months.

“The deepening cooperation with Lesotho will enable us to do more, and the greater implementation of the Trusted Traveller programme is our next target,” said Minister Cwele.

The Trusted Traveller System enables qualifying categories of people to transit the port faster. The Ministers are considering extending the interventions to other ports of entry.

Minister Au welcomed the progress that is being made in addressing congestion at the port of entry and the deepening partnership between the two nations.

“Lesotho has a unique geographic position in relation to South Africa. This means that SA has to consider a unique dispensation for Lesotho,” said Minister Au.