Abel Zhakata Senior Reporter
THE Government has partnered with private players to establish a new border post in Katiyo, in a development that will significantly increase exports from the agricultural-rich Mutasa district as well as create a shorter route to the sea.
Executives from the Eastern Highlands Plantation Pvt Ltd, which has committed to providing $500 000 to kick-start the construction of the border post, will today (Friday) meet with other stakeholders to iron out logistical challenges that are required to undertake the project.
Mutasa District Administrator, Mr Tendai Kapenzi, said the establishment of the border post will revolutionarise the district by further opening the country to new lines of international transactions.
“Everything is in order and we are only waiting for a go ahead to kick start the project. The relevant stakeholders have been consulted regarding the border post project,” he said.
“We are only left to get feedback from stakeholders like the Immigration Department and the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority. As for local government, we were given the go-ahead to start work, visits have been made to the proposed site of the border post and it is good to note that EHP is also working with Arda Katiyo since the project is being done on land belonging to Arda Katiyo.
“The setting up of this border post has numerous economic benefits to Mutasa and the country at large. In Mutasa we are in the process of setting up fruit and vegetable processing plants and the opening of the post will create a faster route to export the products to the world. Coming to tea exports, the proposed border post will present a shorter route to the sea,” he said.
Katiyo is situated in Honde Valley which extends from the eastern border of Zimbabwe into Mozambique. The valley is formed as part of the eastern highlands mountain range which is about 130km from Mutare.
Mr Kapenzi said EHP is chipping in with $500 000 to bankroll the setting up of the border post because the tea plantation company stands to benefit more if a new border post is constructed in Katiyo.
“Currently EHP is using the longer route, Forbes Border Post in Mutare to export its tea. The setting up of the Katiyo border post will be cost effective on their part and that is why they are willing to join hands with Government and bankroll the construction of the post.”
Mr Kapenzi said preliminary calculations done to forecast on the viability of the border post show that the opening up of the post will allow at least 300-320 commercial truck movements per week (exports of tea, fertiliser imports, fuel and other commodities).
He said more commercial traffic will be generated by small businesses in the valley and beyond.
“A lot of illegal cross border trading that is currently going on will be legalised and substantial amount of revenue can be collected. On average there are about 30-50 minibuses that ply up to the Katiyo foot bridge for trading purposes per week.
“The border post will also positively impact on tourism. There are excellent world class tourist facilities in the form of Aberfoyle Lodge. Tourists can do water rafting in the Pungwe River which flows through the Valley, bird watching, walking and hiking, including the newly constructed Turaco Trail. The Valley itself is well known as a birding destination and people from all over the world come to see several endemic species that are in the Valley. Of huge interest to birding groups would be a cross border facility to link with Gorongoza National Park in Mozambique.
“A border facility in Katiyo will enable birding groups and other tourists to cut off several hours in travel time and significantly increase number of visitors to the area. All of these products are world class but they are not being utilised to their full potential partly because of the remoteness of the valley and its inaccessibility,” he said.