Home National Border Management Authority Records Over 5 Million Travelers During Festive Season

Border Management Authority Records Over 5 Million Travelers During Festive Season

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The Commissioner of the Border Management Authority (BMA), Dr Mike Masiapato accompanied by Deputy Commissioners addressing members of media at a briefing to provide a report back on the outline of the Festive Season border operations.

South Africa’s Border Management Authority (BMA) marked a notable increase in cross-border travel activity, processing over five million travelers during the 2023/2024 festive season.

Commissioner Dr Mike Masiapato announced the significant milestone, highlighting the busy period between December 6, 2023, and January 18, 2024, where 5,096,288 travelers crossed through the nation’s 71 ports of entry.

This year’s figures represent a substantial one million increase from the previous year, although travel numbers have not yet fully returned to the pre-pandemic average of six million. The movement control system registered a diverse mix of transit methods, including 216,594 private vehicles, 21,502 mini-bus taxis, 6,443 buses, and 55,765 trucks. The skies and seas were just as bustling, with 13,050 aircraft and approximately 709 vessels processed at international airports and seaports, respectively.

As the key facilitator of lawful travel and goods transit, the BMA has worked to expand its operational capacity, particularly at selected ports of entry with limited hours. This strategic move likely contributed to the increased flow of people during this period, particularly at the top three busiest ports. OR Tambo International Airport (ORTIA) led the pack with 993,759 travelers, followed closely by the Lebombo and Beitbridge land ports of entry, which connect South Africa to Mozambique and Zimbabwe, respectively. The ports saw increased traveler volumes of 22% at ORTIA, 24% at Lebombo, and 25% at Beitbridge, compared to last year.

However, the festive travel surge also witnessed attempts at illegal entry into the country. The BMA reported about 15,924 individuals intercepted for lacking the proper documentation. These individuals were subsequently fingerprinted, declared undesirable, and banned from re-entry for five years. The Lebombo land port of entry topped the list with 6,808 attempts, followed by Beitbridge.

In addition to the detection of undocumented individuals, the BMA denied entry to 6,455 travelers deemed undesirable, including those with criminal records noted in the Interpol red list and others with invalid travel documents or lacking necessary health clearances. In total, 27,005 people were turned back for attempting to enter the country unlawfully.

The increased detection rate has been attributed to the efficient use of the Biometric Movement Control Systems (BMCS), enhancing security and oversight at entry points. The festive period also entailed strict enforcement of regulations on public transport companies transporting illegal migrants. The BMA issued 98 administrative fines totaling R3.54 million to bus companies, signaling a firm stance on compliance and accountability, and successfully collected R9.8 million in outstanding fines from about 25 bus companies.

Commissioner Masiapato emphasized the BMA’s dual focus on facilitating legitimate transit while countering illegal movements and ensuring transport companies uphold their responsibilities. With bus companies committing to new measures, including mandatory passport checks before travel, the BMA envisages improved compliance and safety at South Africa’s borders.

The Commissioner of the Border Management Authority (BMA), Dr Mike Masiapato accompanied by Deputy Commissioners addressing members of media at a briefing to provide a report back on the outline of the Festive Season border operations.

The Commissioner of the Border Management Authority (BMA), Dr Mike Masiapato accompanied by Deputy Commissioners addressing members of media at a briefing to provide a report back on the outline of the Festive Season border operations.

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