|Zimra transforms Chirundu|
|Sunday, 03 November 2013 00:00|
The commissioning by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) of modern scanning facilities and the construction of water reticulation and sewage disposal systems is set to transform the sleepy border post of Chirundu into a major town and an important trade and travel entry and exit point.
Amid pomp and fanfare, the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Cde Patrick Chinamasa, officially opened the facilities that are set to bring massive growth to the border town.
Also in attendance was the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, Dr Ignatius Chombo, to whom Cde Chinamasa handed over the newly constructed modern sewage stabilisation ponds and water treatment works.
Projections point to Chirundu becoming a major border town in Zimbabwe, in much the same way Beitbridge has become.
Initiated in partnership with Zambia, the Chirundu One-Stop Border Post concept was the first of its kind in Southern Africa.
The Chirundu One-Stop Border Post was commissioned in December 2009 by the then President of Zambia, Mr Rupiah Banda, and President Mugabe.
Since its inception, the One-Stop Border Post has contributed immensely to the reduction of costs associated with border procedures.
The volume of traffic has been increasing, with figures showing that it has risen from around 150 trucks per day in 2012 to 350 trucks that are currently being cleared daily.
According to Zimra, the new scanners will enable its officers to clear an average of 20 trucks per hour.
Apart from enabling the smooth clearance of cargo, the new facility reduces costs, resulting in the post being a business attraction. The scanners will also curb illicit trade and drug trafficking.
Dr Chombo said the anticipated economic trickle-down benefits are obvious as Chirundu is poised to grow tremendously within the next five years because of the investment attractiveness the town has established so far.
“What is required as a matter of urgency is a master business plan for the establishment. Once that is put into place, we will begin to see the fruits of our efforts,” Dr Chombo said. To cope with the anticipated demand, Zimra is already mulling the implementation of a double shift system to catch up with improved trade demands.
Since the construction of the sewer ponds, there has been an increase in employment opportunities as business and the private sector respond to the improvements.
The construction of the water treatment works, clear and raw water pumping mains, effluent disposal and irrigation is in line with the new Government plans to bring about socio-economic transformation in the country. The project was part of the composite Chirundu Development Project that was initiated and managed by the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing on behalf of Immigration and Customs departments under the Ministry of Finance in 1999.
Previously, residents of the border post relied on untreated water from the Zambezi River, exposing themselves to outbreaks of cholera and other water-borne diseases. The residents at times encountered dangerous animals while bathing in the crocodile-infested river. However, Chirundu residents can now drink and use clean purified water.
Chirundu’s sewer system was old and dilapidated and could therefore not sustain the town, with residents blaming council for poor service delivery.
“My plea to the business world, especially hoteliers and other players in the hospitality industry, is to consider investing in Chirundu. Some of the artificial congestion that occurs at this border post is caused by the parking of trucks at inconvenient places because of the inadequacy of truck-inns and other related facilities,” Minister Chinamasa said.
Chirundu has become a preferred transit route, resulting in increased traffic flow.
Chirundu will never be the same again since we are expecting a massive developmental programme,” Cde Chombo said.
“For the next years we will not be having sewer problems. As residents of Chirundu, we are excited about the recent developments. Residents have the money to buy residential stands but there has not been any official land allocation. Once these issues are addressed, Chirundu will be transformed,” Mr Jealous Matesanwa said.
Close to 88 percent of Chirundu residents live in mud and plastic shacks in Baghdad, a sprawling and overcrowded informal settlement. In poverty-stricken Baghdad, prostitution s rife and so is crime. Of the more than 4 000 Chirundu residents, only 258 were allocated residential stands.
Despite the challenges, it is abundantly clear that Chirundu is poised to become a major trading post.