By Blessings Mpinganjira:
Cross border trade between Malawi and Zambia will have the boost of a modern border post that is expected to offer swift customs and immigration clearances.
This is expected to reduce time cross-border traders, travellers and track drives spend when having clearances at the border post.
Vice-President Saulos Chilima has since urged all those involved in the project to ensure it is finished by December as scheduled so that President Lazarus Chakwera and his Zambian counterpart Edgar Lungu officially open it as a “Christmas gift to the people of Malawi and Zambia”.
“I am impressed with the job here; it is of high quality and of excellence. We hope this is not going to be a white elephant but be used to its maximum potential so that the money that has been spent on it is put to the intended use,” Chilima said.
He urged Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) officials, who will manage the $9 million border post in the interim, to be paying a fee just as any permanent operator of the revenue making facility would do.
Trade Minister Sosten Gwengwe said the border post would complement the cross border business centre being developed close to the site to enhance formal trade between Malawians and Zambians.
He further said simplified border transactions on customs and immigration would reduce smuggling of goods that is rampant due to, among other factors, time spent on border clearances.
MRA Commissioner General John Biziwick has assured that MRA would take good care of the border facility.
He said, besides removing bottlenecks on border clearances, there would be new jobs created to manage it.
“Actually, the number of employees to manage this facility will double when it opens. We expect to open it in the next four months,” he said.
On the Zambian side, there is also a similar facility whose construction is a bit behind as compared to the Malawi facility and, according to MRA, full operations of the one-stop border post arrangement would wait for completion of both facilities.
The Vice President also toured Mchinji Teachers College, where he expressed dissatisfaction with the design of the infrastructure.
He, however, ordered some alterations to some building designs.
He also had a closed-door meeting with the Mchinji District Council officials on progress of public reforms.