PRETORIA, — Home Affairs Deputy Minister Fatima Chohan says operational hours will be extended at South Africa’s busiest ports of entry to accommodate movements during the incomng festive season.

Chohan said this when she briefed media on the department’s readiness to facilitate movements of travellers at all ports of entry as South Africa braces itself for yet another busy festive season.

As in previous years, stakeholders at ports of entry and partners from neighbouring countries have agreed to a comprehensive operational plan in order to support a facilitation of movement in this period � 5 December 2018 to 9 January 2019.

For enhanced collaboration and integrated port operations, government departments and agencies involved in border management will take a joint approach for the festive operation.

Operational hours will be extended for busy ports of entry, covering pre-festive season movements, the festive season period and the re-opening of schools.

Chohan said the department would also deploy 425 additional staff at the busiest ports.

To this end, Mpumalanga’s Lebombo and Oshoek border posts, Free State’s Van Rooyenshek and Caledonspoort posts will be open for 24 hours during certain periods in December.

Other ports would see their operational times extended by between one and two hours.

The announcement was made after South African ports of entry facilitated a high number of movements last year.

In the same period during last year’s festive period, just over 8.4 million movements comprising of arrivals and departures of citizens and foreigners were captured at South Africa’s ports of entry � with 6.1 million of these being foreigners.

The highest arrivals from the SADC region were from Lesotho (758,519), followed by Zimbabwe (712,688), Mozambique (398,684), Swaziland (306,682) and Botswana (256,793).

In the same period, the top 10 ports for all movements were OR Tambo International Airport (1,569,100), Beit Bridge (1,215,845), Lebombo (936,415), Ficksburg (701,588), Maseru Bridge (699,186), Cape Town International Airport (555,451), Oshoek (384,076), Kopfontein (236,561), Ramathlabama (176,348) and Groblers Bridge (165,903).

Chohan said in preparation for the festive season, the Information Technology team at Home Affairs was currently conducting a clean sweep operation to ensure that all IT equipment is in a good condition in all ports of entry to ensure optimal functioning.

Chohan said the team was also setting up overflow areas for processing travellers in Maseru Bridge, Lebombo and Beit Bridge to cater to the expected large volumes.

She said it was imperative for ports of entry to be adequately prepared to facilitate traveller movement and to curb illegal movement and transgressions.

Border management authorities plan meticulously for ports to detect risks such as fraudulent documents, undocumented travellers and poor access control due to congested roads.

We implore all travellers leaving and entering South Africa to ensure that all their travel documents are in order to avoid unnecessary delays in ports. These include passports, visas, health certificates, permits for specified goods, plants and animals and vehicles insurance and bank authorised cross-border documents for vehicles.

We wish everyone a safe and pleasant festive season, Chohan said.