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Zimra's new online cargo clearance system brews chaos at Beitbridge

by Staff reporter
04 Dec 2020 at 16:08hrs | Views
CUSTOMS clearing agents and commercial transporters have criticised the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) for introducing the automated e-road cargo manifest system when it was ill prepared.

A number of customs agents have been failing to access the new online system to process import/export documents for the last three days.

As a results cargo is piling at the Beitbridge Border Post, which is the country's busiest port of entry that handles at least 1 500 commercial trucks daily. Under the new system, everything is now done online through the use of the Automated System for Customs Data Asycuda World. But Zimra clients are failing to log into the system to initiate the clearance of goods.

According to one custom clearing agent, Mr Leni Chemaz, the state of affairs is creating an unnecessary backlog for most transporters and clearing agents. He said the revenue collector should have done a test run or introduced the new idea during the off-peak period.

"This is a good idea, but it must be implemented when people have been adequately schools and the system has been upgraded to carry all those seeking to do business with Zimra," said Mr Chemaz.

Beitbridge chairman of commercial transporters, Mr Osbert Shumba, said Zimra had waylaid transporters and importers/exporters resulting in chaos.

"Zimra is overwhelmed by the applications and to date, some transporters have not yet received their log-in credentials," he said.

"You will note that most transporters are not well versed with the new system even though we are told by Zimra that training was done online. Also, most transporters are not aware of this move.

"In addition, l think, there is something wrong with the Zimra's timing, considering with opening of the border to passenger traffic and the fact that we are now in the festive season. This is a time whereby naturally everybody will be busy and pushing high volumes of cargo".

He said they had engaged the revenue collector over the chaos resulting in a temporary waiver for customs agents to process some of the documents manually.

Commercial truck drivers complain that they were now spending more than two days at the border and that previously they will complete the border process in less than 12 hours.

"I have been in the customs yard for two days and this is frustrating. Our customs clearing agents are saying the delays are emanating from the overwhelmed Zimra system," said Maxie Ngwenya, who is headed for Malawi.

Another driver, Mr Trust Munatsire, said the long delays were being made that without a commercial cargo scanner, Zimra was referring most trucks to the Container Depot (Condep) for physical examinations.

"If you go to Condep you are assured of spending two or three days there to complete all the processes. This is bad for business," he said.

In a statement Thursday, Zimra said manual road manifests were now being accepted and processed only for transporters who have evidence of submission of an application for e-road Cargo Manifest profiles.

"We wish to advise our valued clients that due to the late influx of applications by transporters for profiles to capture e-road cargo manifests, processing of these applications may be delayed due to the large numbers received.

"In order to facilitate trade and ensure that traffic does not build up at the Ports of Entry, manual road manifests are going to be accepted and processed only for transporters who have evidence of submission of an application for e-road Cargo Manifest profiles," said the revenue collector.

Zimra said they required evidence in the form of an email proving submission of the application to Zimra Customs Automation Team for them to process documents manually.

A special team to look into the queries relating to the new system has also been created to expedite the movement of cargo across the country's borders.

Source - chronicle