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Zimra's Documented Processing Centres hit by teething problems at borders

by Staff reporter
02 Jun 2020 at 09:05hrs | Views
THE Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra)'s Documented Processing Centres (DPC) have been hit by teething problems, which have resulted in cargo piling up mainly at Beitbridge, Chirundu and Forbes border posts.

Under the set up, all commercial bill of entries are being processed electronically and these are processed at Harare, Masvingo and Bulawayo DPC. When these bills of entries are processed the trucks are then given the green-light to the port of entry or exit where authorities there only check for conformity.

Our Beitbridge Bureau understands the closure of the Bulawayo (DPC) office recently due to the detection of a Covid-19 case has seen the revenue authority battling to clear a backlog of bills of entries. The development has seen long haulage trucks leaving or entering the country spending more than three days at the borders.

Under normal circumstances, 600 haulage trucks use the Beitbridge Border Post with 300 going either side but the average has increased to nearly 1 000 daily. Zimra had, however, not responded to questions regarding the delays in the movement of cargo by yesterday.

Investigations have established that the situation has been exacerbated by an influx of trucks transiting through Zimbabwe after other traditional transit routes, which go through Botswana and Mozambique were closed by the respective governments.

In the last few weeks more truck drivers have been preferring to transit through Zimbabwe to avoid a number of stringent lockdown regimes in the region. Zimbabwe's economy has been opened under the lockdown level two, which is aimed at facilitating regional and international trade.

Countries using Zimbabwe as a transit trade route include Malawi, Tanzania, Angola, Mozambique and Democratic Republic of Congo. Long queues have become common especially on south bound traffic, with haulage trucks filling most roads in the CBD.

According to the Shipping and Forwarding Agents Association (SFAAZ) the delay in movement of cargo was a cause for concern and some transporters and importers were incurring demurrage costs in the absence of official communication from Zimra.

SFAAZ chief executive officer, Mr Joseph Musariri, said they were engaging the revenue authority over the issue. "The entries are now taking more than three days to be processed which is not the standard turnaround time," he said.

Mr Musariri said when they engaged Zimra over the issue they were told that the dealys were as a result of the temporary closure of their Bulawayo offices due to Covid-19.

"We were also told that the Harare DPC was closed for 14 hours for fumigation at the weekend and we hope things will improve," he said.

Mr Musariri said Chirundu border post started operating 24 hours daily from yesterday in a bid to clear traffic. He said what had compounded the situation at the border is that there is limited parking space for trucks on the Zambian side.
Mr Musariri said more trucks were now using mainly Chirundu and Beitbridge where Covid-19 screening was standard in comparison to other borders where drivers are being quarantined for specified periods thereby slowing the movement of essential transit cargo.

He said Zimbabwe should take advantage of the influx of transit trucks to derive maximum benefits. Mr Musariri said some lorry drivers now avoid truck parks because of Covid-19 guidelines and now prefer to remain in queues while customs documents are being processed.

"Though we understand the explanation from Zimra, we are saying they should make the communication in black and white so that we communicate with our clients to minimise issues of demurrage costs.

"The other issue we have noted at Beitbridge is little space for both south and north-bound trucks.Our proposal is that the south-bound traffic use the Alfred Beitbridge (Old Limpopo) and north bound use the New Limpopo Bridge as trucks using both routes still pay toll fees to the Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (Zinara)," he said.

Mr Musariri said arrangements had been made in Zambia for transit trucks with essential commercial cargo to use the express route to avoid clogging the border. An estimated 100 000 trucks pass through Beitbridge Border post annually in transit to other Sadc countries.

Source - chronicle