Questions remain why trucks working the north-south line through the Southern African Development Community should be checked and charged by Zimbabwean authorities as often as they are at the two primary transits on this route – Beitbridge down south and Chirundu in the north.
At the Limpopo River crossing, alleged over-inspection is resulting in a queue stretching for kilometres south of the border, says Mike Fitzmaurice, chief executive of the Federation of East and Southern African Road Transport Associations.
Part of the problem is legitimate – upgrading work of facilities on the Zim side of the border.
Fitzmaurice explains that the truck yard is routinely full because of the reduced size caused by construction work.
“Therefore the Vehicle Inspection Department (VID) is weighing trucks at the bottom weighbridge as the weighbridge at the top has been removed.
“So all trucks coming in are weighed which causes a backlog onto the bridge across the river, meaning nobody can come in until all of that is clear.”
And yet, although processing is affected because of physical constraints caused by construction work, it still doesn’t explain why VID is inspecting cargo already weighed immediately south of the border.
In a previous interview, Fitzmaurice explained that northbound trucks arrived in Zimbabwe with documentation proving that weighing had been done, with very little if any opportunity for loads to have been tampered with.
“So why weigh them again?”
If this one element of processing is taken out of the equation, it could have an immediate effect on the northbound queue south of the border where the queue sometimes stretches all the way to Musina.
At least Beitbridge has an excuse, functioning as it is according to old-fashioned double-checking methods.
At Chirundu, a so-called one-stop border post, holdups by inspection officials, of tanker cargo in particular, are causing yet more frustration for transporters responsible for carrying fuel into Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
- See the follow-up story of this interview in Freight News tomorrow.