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Refurbished border ‘hallmark of progress’


Lekhetho Ntsukunyane


Home Affairs Minister Lekhetho Rakuoane on Thursday officially opened the newly refurbished Caledonspoort Border Post in Butha-Buthe.

Touted as Lesotho’s first gateway of this high standard, the new facility accommodates staff from departments of Immigration, Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA), Police, National Security Services, Agriculture, Health and Tourism.

The facility further boasts of new staff flats with fitted wardrobes, bathrooms, kitchenette and open-plan lounge. The Lesotho side of the border-gate has also been widened to provide shaded, more vehicle parking space. There are also tourism exhibition counters within the buildings. The refurbishment of the post was launched by Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing in 2012.

Speaking at Thursday’s official opening, Advocate Rakuoane said Lesotho had been grappling with poor quality border posts over the years, characterized by lack of customs-clearing technology.

However, the minister noted over the past five years, the country had made “important strides” towards improving the facilitation of movement of people and goods at the borders.

Advocate Rakuoane said: “The official border-opening we are witnessing today is one such initiative that is a pride and hallmark of progress to the community served here and the Basotho nation at large.

“The government committed itself to growing the economy through institutional reforms and infrastructure development, reviewing the movement and migration of Lesotho citizens and creating a conducive environment for the growth of the private sector.”

Improving cross-border movement was in line with the National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP), Vision 2020 and the Post 2015 Development Agenda, the minister added.

“Closely linked with the foregoing, the NSDP lays the basis for economic transformation, stressing that change is required on many fronts to modernise the economy, address development challenges and improve the lives of Basotho,” said Advocate Rakuoane.

He added over the next few years, the Dr Pakalitha Mosisili-led government would “consolidate its industrialisation and infrastructure expansion programme; empower and promote education and employment for the youth; make the financial sector serve the real economy and people; implement a massive public service reform programme; and build extensive support network for small business and cooperatives.”

The NSDP, Advocate Rakuoane added, provides a strategic framework “to put our economy onto a new growth trajectory with a strong emphasis on lowering the cost of doing business in Lesotho, improving our competitiveness and exports, and linking our products with other emerging markets.”

He continued: “Some priorities the NSDP emphasises in order to improve Lesotho’s economic performance and competitiveness include developing key infrastructure to link production centres and markets and to facilitate external trade; and lowering the costs of transport and logistics and investing in remedies to address spatial divides.

“The NSDP recognises that development has never been a linear process, one step following another in a predictable and orderly sequence. Instead, development requires a multidimensional framework for border authorities to process their imports and exports faster, thereby reducing costs.

“Equally, this kind of cooperation will enable immigration, police, agriculture, tourism, health, environment and other regulators to contribute optimally to facilitating trade and visitor movements.

“The objective of an efficient system to manage the movement of people and goods across borders, must strike an ideal balance between trade-facilitation on the one hand, and managing security threats and protecting our local economy from illicit and counterfeit-goods on the other. In essence, this calls for a balance between service-delivery, risk-management and compliance.

“The launch of this facility today is more than that of opening a physical building equipped with state of the art technology – it introduces a new way of managing ports of entry in our country! It embraces the power of leveraging the intelligence and data gathered by various arms of the state to optimally plan and execute our daily activity without compromising the independence of any specific department in terms of execution of its mandate.”

This, he said, was a clear demonstration that the government understood the power of interdepartmental cooperation and dependency.

Speaking at the same occasion, Heads of Border Agencies chairperson ’Makali Lepholisa said the launch marked an important milestone.

“Today, we are here to launch this beautiful facility. To me, this is not just about opening a new border facility. It is also about launching a new way of thinking; a change in the way we look at the border – the trader and the traveler. We are launching an improved and pleasant experience for border users. This experience should not be about us as government agencies but should be channeled to the customer,” Ms Lepholisa said.

On her part, Caledonspoort Border Refurbishment Project Manager, Thapelo ’Moleli, said the refurbishment was meant to promote “professional tourism” and do away with “scattered stalls for informal trade”, which had been the order of the day at the post.

Other speakers who praised the opening of the facility included Butha-Buthe Member of Parliament, Motlohi Maliehe.

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