In response to the escalating cargo volumes and resulting challenges at the Lebombo land border post, the South African Revenue Service (SARS) and the Border Management Authority (BMA) have issued a joint statement outlining collaborative efforts to alleviate congestion, enhance security, and streamline trade processes.
The Lebombo border, a vital transit point for exports from the Republic of South Africa to Mozambique, particularly minerals, has witnessed a surge in cargo, leading to extended queues on the N4 corridor.
This situation has not only contributed to logistical challenges but has also amplified criminal activities, congestion, and blockages on the key transport route.
Recognizing the urgent need for intervention, SARS and BMA, in partnership with the Presidential Committee, namely the National Logistic Crisis Committee (NLCC), have identified an opportunity to collaborate at the port of entry.
This collaboration involves the co-location and joint operations of SARS and BMA in the canopies (gate house) at the N4 corridor to reduce congestion and improve the efficiency of trade processes.
“The collaboration aligns with the commitment made by both agencies in the BMA Implementation Protocol, aiming to ensure efficient and coordinated interventions at Ports of Entry and in the border law enforcement area,” said the joint statement.
“The joint effort seeks to facilitate legitimate trade and travel while making it more challenging for illicit border crossing of goods and travellers.”
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Engagements between SARS and BMA are ongoing to evaluate the viability and impact of co-locating processes in the canopies, specifically for Marking for Arrival (SARS) and Passport Control (BMA).
The collaborative approach is being tested through a pilot process which began on Wednesday, November 15, 2023, at 9:00 AM and extend until November 30, 2023.
Authorities urged transporters and truck driver to support this initiative by exercising patience, cooperation, and adherence to the outlined procedures during the pilot process.
The joint statement emphasizes the importance of having all required Customs documents and Immigration Passport ready before approaching the canopies and cooperating with security guards and officials deployed in the canopies.
As part of the pilot process, marking for arrival and exit will be conducted at designated canopies by Customs, and BMA Passport control will be processed at the final canopy, eliminating the need for drivers to disembark from trucks and walk to building 310 for passport processing.
While the collaborative effort aims to reduce turnaround time for trucks moving through the bypass, compliance with processes and legislative requirements remains a priority.
The joint statement stresses that non-compliant traders will face enforcement measures to ensure adherence to established protocols.
Transporters and truck drivers were requested to disseminate this information to their teams, and the full implementation date will be communicated based on the lessons learned during the pilot process.
The collaborative efforts between SARS and BMA are expected to contribute significantly to process efficiency at the Lebombo border post.