Sadc pair sign one-stop-shop border accord

29 August 2013

Business Day Live

VICTORIA FALLS - Zimbabwe and Zambia have signed a bilateral agreement that paves the way for the creation of a second one-stop-shop border post between the two countries at the Victoria Falls border post. A one-stop-shop border control system allows travellers and freight carriers to move through borders quickly and with minimal hassles.

Border controls have been cited by both the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) and the Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) as one of the major hindrances to trade and regional integration, and this week´s move by the tw o countries is seen as a significant step in addressing this.

The first one-stop-shop border post between the two countries was established at the Chirundu border post in 2009.The Chirundu post was the first of its kind in Africa and is now a flagship in Sadc and on the continent.

A trial run of the Victoria Falls one-stop-shop border post was successfully carried out during the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) general assembly co-hosted by the two countries, which has just ended.

Zimbabwe's deputy chief secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet, Christian Katsande, a retired army colonel, said the agreement was signed during the tourism conference's official opening on Sunday by President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and President Michael Chilufya Sata of Zambia.

"The one-stop border post bilateral agreement between Zambia and Zimbabwe was meant to expedite clearance and create a seamless border for the UNWTO general assembly," Mr Katsande said, and the arrangement would be made permanent.

"The establishment of a one-stop border post at Victoria Falls border post will provide significant improvements to cross-border traffic management in that both commercial traffic and travellers will stop only once to complete border formalities of both countries. This reduces waiting clearance times from days to hours," Mr Katsande said.

"Southbound traffic from Zambia will drive straight to the Zimbabwean side and stop for clearance in the Zimbabwean customs control zone, while north-bound traffic from Zimbabwe will proceed straight to the Zambian customs control zone for clearance," he said.

"Border authorities from the two countries will perform joint controls and enforcement in one place."

Mr Katsande said border agency staff of both countries would now share facilities for the convenience of both commercial cargo carriers and the travelling public. This would eliminate bottlenecks at border posts.

"The benefits that will accrue through the implementation of the one-stop border post at Victoria Falls border post will include a co-ordinated border management approach which eliminates duplication of border agencies´ interventions.

"Time taken in the clearance process of both cargo and people will be reduced drastically as a result of having border formalities undertaken by border agencies of the respective nations being done concurrently, such as joint inspections for selected cargo shipments," Mr Katsande said.

"The processing efficiencies thereof will result in increased revenue collections for the two governments," he said.

Traffic would queue only once - on the side of the border where clearance would be given.

"The Victoria Falls one-stop border initiative is a reflection of the continued strengthening of the political and economic ties that exist between the two countries" Mr Katsande said.

Original article by Shylet Shumba

Category: General

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