Calls for 24-hour border post as new road to Mozambique boosts KZN businesses
Massive increase in traffic volumes as new road and bridge cut travel time between Maputo and Kosi Bay from six hours to 90 minutes
The opening of the new road between Mozambique and KwaZulu-Natal has boosted trade, investment and tourism so much that local businesses are calling for the extension of the Kosi Bay border’s working hours from nine to 24 hours a day.
The road, built with the Chinese loans, was officially opened by Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi in November 2018. It includes the Maputo-Catembe Bridge, Africa’s longest suspension bridge.
The road cuts travel time between Kosi Bay and Maputo from six hours to 90 minutes, making it popular with both tourism industry and the business community alike.
Kosi Bay businesses and residents say the have seen an unprecedented increase in traffic volumes between Mozambique and KwaZulu-Natal during the festive season.
Thabani Shale, the CEO of the Zululand Chamber of Commerce confirmed trade has increased since the opening of the new road.
“The biggest improvement has been the logistics because we don’t have to go through Swaziland to get to Maputo. That is why business between Richards Bay and Maputo has increased tremendously over the past two months. Furthermore, many of our members have been asking about opportunities on the other side of the border.
“Currently, the border is opened from 8am to 5pm, and 6am to 8pm during peak season. The next step for us is to put an official request through the office of the MEC for economic development & tourism for the Kosi Bay border to be open for more hours, even up to 24 hours,” Shale said.
He expects trade between Richards Bay and Maputo to increase further after Transnet announced it has approved a R77.5bn extension of the Richards Bay harbour.
“These and other opportunities will create jobs on either side of the border. We also have the Richards Bay Industrial Development Zone which will open many opportunities in the trade, industry and tourism sectors,” he said.
Sandile Gumede, an Empangeni resident who visited Mozambique in December for a holiday with his family, said the new road makes it almost effortless to travel.
“The road is very good. But I was impressed by the [Maputo-Catembe] bridge. It is a marvel to see. I also noticed that the service in tourists venues in Maputo and surrounding areas has improved compared with when we were here four years ago," he said.
Lynette van der Merwe, a travel consultant at Mozambique Connection, said there was a high volume of travellers from either side of the border. She said travellers going to Mozambique should ensure they have all the relevant documents.
“Travellers should get both South African and Mozambican stamps on their passport when they enter. Failing to do so may result in a fine upon return. There can be spot vehicle checks, so travellers need to make sure their vehicle is roadworthy at all times,” she said.
Bongani Tembe, spokesperson for the KwaZulu-Natal MEC for economic development, said the department is collating information on the volume of trade between the two countries before taking any further steps.