PRESIDENT Mnangagwa has said that the Victoria Falls Border is in a sorry state and requires urgent facelift to meet modern standards expected from a port of entry into a world destination.
The President visited the Victoria Falls Bridge via the border on Wednesday as he relived memories of how he was deported to Zambia by Rhodesian government after his release from a 10-year detention in 1972.
He has been in Victoria Falls since Tuesday to receive Freedom of the City from the local authority and also conferred City status to the municipality on Wednesday.
“This morning I went to the bridge and the customs area is in a sorry state. The building is old and dilapidated yet it should be the face of the country. I will ask the Minister of Local Government and Public Works to look into the matter and we will ensure to finance any developments that he may come up with,” said President Mnangagwa, who later officiated at the conferment ceremony.
The Victoria Falls Border with Zambia is characterised by a single small building with only two offices for the Immigration Department and Zimbabwe Revenue Authority besides the immigration hall on the entry and exit sides.
Port health, a key department especially during the Covid-19 era, has no office and uses a makeshift facility once used by the Ministry of Agriculture outside the building.
The Environmental Management Authority also has no office. There is also no proper police post at the border and security personnel operate from a small makeshift shed and no parking space for vehicles especially buses and heavy vehicles.
This is despite the border being a busy port of entry in the tourism capital alongside Kazungula Border on the border with Botswana further upstream from Victoria Falls.
As a result, there are usually delays in clearing cargo and sometimes human traffic during peak periods because of limited space.
The Victoria Falls Border is a critical facility to the tourism sector as it is used by tourists especially in the Kavango-Zambezi Trans-frontier Conservation Area where a Uni-Visa model is being piloted. Before Covid-19, the border would attend to about 1500 travellers per day.
Immigration department’s North Western Region consists of Victoria Falls, Kazungula, Pandamatenga and Binga Border posts as well as Victoria Falls International Airport. The Binga border is still under construction.
Upgrading the border will also be in tandem with the new city status, with the city already having the Victoria Falls Stock Exchange (VFEX) and the Victoria falls International Airport among other developments, which the President said were a symbol of hope and potential in the province.
President Mnangagwa also challenged the city leadership and all stakeholders to utilise the new status to boost national image towards growing the tourism sector and other national investment, trade and modernisation programmes.
He said the Second Republic is committed to implementation and completion of projects laid out in Matabeleland especially within the Victoria Falls-Hwange-Mlibizi-Binga-Sijalila Corridor.
“As the only city in the province and being at the epicentre of development matrix, Victoria Falls must provide leadership in all these endeavours. Furthermore, strong and enabling development control measures must be crafted and promoted to give impetus to the transformation of the city into world class smart city benchmarked against the world’s best,” said President Mnangagwa.
He said Government had allocated $19,5 billion for devolution in the 2021 National Budget, which should lead to development of the country with communities taking responsibility for their own development.
The City Mayor, Councillor Somvelo Dhlamini, commended the Government for unveiling Devolution Funds, which he said had been instrumental in development projects in the city. ■