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Zimra cracks whip at border

by Staff reporter
21 Oct 2021 at 06:18hrs | Views
Trucks arriving at Beitbridge without the proper paperwork and without pre-clearing their cargoes, so taking up parking space and causing delays, are now being charged penalties, Zimbabwe's Border Efficiency Management Systems Committee (BEMSC) has resolved as one measure to end border delays.

The other will be to second Zimbabwean customs officers to the South African side to stop un-cleared cargoes coming north since some South African officers disregard the pre-notification system even though South Africa has set up truck parks 50km south of the border as part of measures to enforce the rules.

Pre-clearance is when customs processes are done and duties are paid before the arrival at the border. It is mandatory for transporters to do pre-clearance but some have been openly defying this rule. As a result, at least 20 or 30 commercial trucks will take up space at the border causing bottlenecks in the smooth flow of traffic.

The BEMSC met with transporters, freight forwarders, runners, and other critical agencies yesterday.

Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra), acting board chairperson, Mrs Josephine Matambo said Zimra was looking at addressing the backlog on the northbound traffic in the next 24 hours.

"In addition to other interventions, we are setting up a crisis management team to be on the ground round the clock implementing all the resolutions on the dot," she said.

"We are going to be penalising all those parking within the border beyond three hours and our team will be hard on the ground giving hourly reports to management. After having interactions with most drivers both regional and local we have discovered that some are arriving without toll fees and are parking and occupying space. They then wait for transporters or customs agents to make the payments to Zimborders".

Mrs Matambo said in some instances the transporters were taking longer than necessary to process the payments with Zimborders.

The penalties are expected to go a long way in addressing issues of unnecessary parking with the border area.

Zimborders was also working on extending the parking space to carry 70 more trucks by the beginning of next month. The parking on the imports section can carry at least 200 trucks at any given time.

"The other issue is that the drivers coming in from South Africa feel that our border is safe for resting and they would then park and not contact the agents or runners to release them until the next morning.

 "Instead, they should arrive and process the papers and leave the border-post which is not a truck stop. They are avoiding truck parks in both countries," said Mrs Matambo.

It has also been established that some drivers arriving before midnight don't want to be cleared until the next day so that they have an extra day to claim for more remuneration.

At the same time, the customs agents and the runners are said to be working with the thin staff at night despite the border operating 24 hours a day.

To enhance efficiency, the BEMSC has requested the customs agents make written commitments to Zimra to work around the clock and those failing to deliver will be penalised.

"We have talked to Zimborders and they have assured us that their prepayment system should be up and running concurrently with our pre-clearance system in the next 24 hours. The idea is to make the traffic flow system as seamless as possible," said Mr Matambo.

She said the committee had managed to iron out the teething challenges on southbound traffic and the focus had shifted to imports (northbound) traffic.

Zimra's acting commissioner-general Mr Rameck Masaire said Zimra was deploying more staff to Beitbridge. At least 450 workers are expected to be at the border post during the festive season.

Source - The Herald