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Author put it mildly

“Frustrated”, who wrote the letter “Probe scam at Beitbridge border post” (Independent, August 27) pointing out shortcomings in the customs management and customer care departments, was cautious, considerate and polite about his/her comme


In my view, management, motivation and supervision are nothing short of non-existent, inexcusable and disgraceful for a national gateway into any country.

In fact, if your sense of humour is working overtime and you’re not in a hurry you might just break out laughing.

To seasoned travellers there is no need to point out what the issues are. They are self-evident. The uninitiated will be appalled at the confusion, unhelpfulness, lack of information and chaos – any combination of which might lead to panic.

The order of events can cause delays from one, if you are lucky, to five hours or more.

Mention should be made of the “unofficial clearing agents”. These people target anybody they think might be giving up hope, have foreign currency, foreign number plates on their vehicles or foreign identities.

They will probably be off-duty staff who for a fee of R200 and upwards will, with the nod of a head and a wink, negotiate with on-duty staff to have your passport stamped for easy passage.

Here are a few tips that the officer-in-charge of customs might need. And, shortage of staff is not in the armoury of defence options.

Here goes:

Big visible signs from the bridge exit indicating car, taxi, bus or lorry parking areas, entry, exit, etc;

Actual vehicle search area after clearing customs desk staff. This is another shambles arena with no staff and plenty of customers;

Entrance/exit doors to building with customs declaration forms available given out to each family or individual at entry by an alert security or customs man who would also offer information and directions if necessary;

Vehicle bridge payment revenue desks manned with adequate change to prevent 10, 20, or 30 minute delays;

Immigration. Normally no delays; and Appropriate declaration routes for pedestrians, collective taxi, or bus declarations, visitors (not returning residents), green route fast service (nothing to delare or under limit); red route declarations over the top; payment counter, etc.

Most of these desks are available but never manned.

One could argue that management is encouraging mismanagement because, as we know, where there’s chaos there’s cash. And, if there’s something in it for the staff, we are unlikely to see any improvement.

Mike Whitfield,


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