Zim rolls out unmanned borders

12 May, 2024 - 00:05 0 Views
Zim rolls out unmanned borders

The Sunday Mail

Tanyaradzwa Rusike

ZIMBABWE is on the verge of rolling out a cutting-edge border management system that automates immigration processes without the need for physical human intervention at its major ports of entry and exit.

The Department of Immigration has secured equipment to set up the Online Border Management System (OBMS), a platform that streamlines immigration processes and enhances border security. It uses a complex computer procedure to automate border control. The system, which is expected to be rolled out in the coming months, is set to be piloted at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport, the Victoria Falls International Airport and the Beitbridge Border Post.

In an interview with The Sunday Mail, chief director of immigration Ms Respect Gono said the OBMS will enhance coordination of all border agencies.

“The Online Border Management System entails the full computerisation of the immigration processes, which comprise the e-visa, exit and entry management and e-permits,” she said.

“The rollout will begin with Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport, Victoria Falls International Airport, Beitbridge Border Post and inland stations concurrently.”

The system, a first of its kind in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region, is modelled along the lines of Dubai’s trailblazing Smart Gates Platform, which offers a fast and contactless way for eligible travellers to go through passport control at the Dubai International Airport.

Dubai’s system has automated self-service kiosks and utilises facial recognition technology to streamline the immigration processes for passengers.

The Sunday Mail has gathered that the Government has since contracted Garsu Pasaulis, a Lithuanian company, to undertake the project. Ms Gono said the system is expected to improve efficiency at ports of entry and exit.

“The OBMS is the first of its kind in the SADC region as it brings e-gate platforms,” she added.

“It will improve the turnaround time at ports of entry since the system comprises the pre-clearance facility before the traveller arrives.

“The immigration IF1 form has been replaced with an electronic version that will be completed prior to travelling.

“If one fails to use prior clearance, there will be kiosk mode and a QR code that will be available at the ports of entry.”

The immigration IF1 form is an arrival declaration document used in Zimbabwe.

It is filled out by visitors entering the country to declare travel and personal details to immigration officials.

The form helps the Department of Immigration to collect information about a traveller’s trip, such as purpose of visit, duration of stay and contact details. The form is typically filled out on the plane or before arrival at the immigration checkpoint.

“The Department of Immigration is alive to the SADC Protocol on Facilitation of Free Movement of Persons and is committed to ensure that alignment of immigration processes is done, starting with Botswana and Zimbabwe, as enunciated by His Excellency, President Mnangagwa, and his Botswana counterpart, President (Mokgweetsi) Masisi,” added Ms Gono.

The OBMS will usher in e-gates, also known as automated border control systems.

The gates will use biometric verification of fingerprints and iris scans, whilst passport scanners will grant access to authorised travellers, replacing manual document checks by immigration officers.

Upon reaching an e-gate, a traveller will insert their passport into a registered slot, which will then scan the document’s chip and capture their image and fingerprints.

The captured information will be compared to the biometric data stored in the immigration database or travel document.

If everything matches, the gate will open automatically, granting the traveller access to the country.

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