Extending the operating hours of the Oshoek/Ngwenya Border Post to 24 hours has been discussed by the Ministers of Home Affairs from South Africa and the Kingdom of Eswatini.
This follows a meeting that was held on Friday by the Minister of Home Affairs Dr Siyabonga Cwele and his Eswatini counterpart, Her Royal Highness Princess Lindiwe Dlamini.
The Ministers discussed issues of mutual interest, in particular around migration and trade at the Oshoek/Ngwenya Border Post.
“The main issues discussed were the re-establishment of formal dialogue mechanisms between the two countries and considering modalities around extending the operating hours of the Oshoek/Ngwenya Border Post to 24 hours,” a joint statement by the Ministers of Home Affairs from South Africa and Eswatini said.
The Oshoek/Ngwenya Border Post is the busiest border post between the two countries and is also the busiest land trade port, accounting for R1.7 billion a year.
“We are focused on contributing to growing the economies of both countries. The volumes of both people and trade moving through the port justifies considering extending the operating hours. Extended office hours would also help to reduce accidents because our people will not have to rush to reach the border post,” said the Minister said in statement on Sunday.
Cwele said in the short-term, it may be quicker to extend operating hours in the morning, from 6am instead of 7am.
The Kingdom of Eswatini proposed that a formal dialogue mechanism between the two countries on Home Affairs matters be re-established.
“I am reliably informed that there used to be quarterly meetings between Home affairs officials of both countries. This meetings were very useful and could be used as a platform to address ongoing and emerging such as informal crossings, study permits, medical visas, and extension of border operational hours.
“It is therefore, my considered view and humble plea that these quarterly meetings be revived as a matter of urgency,” Princess Dlamini said.
The Ministers agreed to reinstate quarterly meetings of senior officials to keep track of commitments made and the implementation of areas of agreement.
Another area of discussion was the issue of Overstayers, or people who are in either country for a period longer than the time granted on entry more especially those staying on medical conditions.
The Ministers agreed to use the Diplomatic Missions to reduce this phenomenon by having the nationals alerting their Diplomatic Missions if circumstances forces them to stay longer in either country.
The Diplomatic Missions will then work with Home Affairs officials to assist in such instances.
Princess Dlamini was also pleased with her counterpart that they have established a mobile solution where sickly individuals can be assisted by either a relative to attain an online visa without visiting the Home Affairs offices.
“The Ministers agreed to ensure that the people coming in to the counties are documented and use official lines like the ports of entry,” the statement said.
The Ministers also monitored the state of readiness of the port ahead of the Easter Period.
The Oshoek/Ngwenya Port of Entry will operate for 24 hours from 18-21 April 2019. The Ministers expressed satisfaction about the plans and the preparations for this busy period.
The meeting was also attended by the SA High Commissioner to Swaziland, Members of Eswatini Parliament, Councillors of the Chief Albert Luthuli Local Municipality, senior managers of both governments from the departments of Home Affairs, Police, Revenue Service as well as Agriculture. – SAnews.gov.za