Home Affairs Minister, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, says officials are committed to making the country's border posts safer, less porous and more efficient in the facilitation and easing of trade, as well as the legitimate movement of people.
“The South African government is committed to putting in the latest infrastructure and relevant technology in its efforts to modernise and upgrade our ports to be on par with the current global best practices on border management,” Motsoaledi said.
Addressing media in Pretoria on Wednesday, Motsoaledi said the main objective of upgrading border posts is to make it easier for law-abiding people and companies to easily enter and exit South Africa through the borders, while the illicit movement of persons and goods is nipped in the bud.
“It has taken a while for us to get to this point. I would like to commend my team consisting of officials from the Border Management Authority, the Department of Home Affairs, The Presidency’s Infrastructure SA, National Treasury, SARS, the DBSA’s Infrastructure Fund, and the transactional advisors, Bowmans and Ernst & Young, for their hard work in getting us to this point,” Motsoaledi said.
He said South Africa’s ports of entry were designed during the apartheid era, with the primary objective of tightened security, while neglecting the effective facilitation of regional and international trade.
“Since the advent of democracy, there has been an exponential increase in the number of people moving between South Africa and the countries in the region. The volume of regional and international trade has similarly increased.
“As a result, our land ports of entry are very congested and that continues to stifle trade, instead of enabling it. If you want to understand what we are talking about, just take a visit to the Lebombo Border Post between SA and Mozambique, where you will see trucks lining up for kilometres, bumper to bumper, for hours on end, on the N4 Corridor,” Motsoaledi said.
He said this is because mining companies in the North West, Limpopo and Mpumalanga took a decision to use the Maputo Port for their exports and no longer Richards Bay Harbour.
“Given the current narrow design of the port, this has led to congestion. The announcement we are making today will make sure that what is happening there, will become history (sic),” the Minister said.
Improvements to boost continental trade
Motsoaledi said SA has 72 ports of entry, 53 of which are land, 11 are international airports and eight are seaports -- all of which are now operated by the Border Management Authority.
“Of the 53 land ports of entry, we have now earmarked six of our largest and busiest, by traffic volume, for redevelopment in order to address the congestion. The outcome of the redevelopment of these ports of entry will be used as a blueprint in the long-term for all other South Africa’s land ports of entry.
“The primary intention is to ensure the realisation of regional economic integration in the SADC region, while facilitating the realisation of African Continental Free Trade Area,” the Minister said.
Motsoaledi said in order to ensure that ongoing operations at each of the designated Ports of Entry are not interrupted, construction will be undertaken in phases.
“During construction, the project is expected to create in the order of 38 000 jobs in areas around the six designated ports of entry,” he said.
The six ports of entry earmarked for upgrading or redevelopment are:
• Beitbridge - Zimbabwe
• Lebombo - Mozambique
• Maseru Bridge – Lesotho
• Ficksburg - Lesotho
• Kopfontein - Botswana
• Oshoek - Eswatini
The redeveloped ports of entry will result in:
• Efficient cross-border management of the movement of people, goods and services.
• Improved administration of persons entering and leaving the Republic.
• Better regional economic integration, and enhanced support for the African Continental Free Trade Area.
• Improved revenue collection and addressing leakages caused by the illegal movement of goods and illicit financial flows.
• Protecting local industry from harmful imports and exports.
• Effective migration management including curbing illegal migration. – SAnews.gov.za