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Smuggled goods pile up at border

by Staff reporter
02 Mar 2021 at 06:33hrs | Views
The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) says it has run out of storage space at Beitbridge after forfeited goods accumulated since the imposition of Covid-19 restrictions.

The tax collector has since been having challenges disposing of an assortment of goods that have been accumulating at the country's busiest inland port because it has not been able to conduct rummage sales (auctions) under the obtaining environment.

The State warehouses have reportedly been filling up since March last year and the revenue collector has been forced to rent more facilities from private players.

The bulk of goods which are worth millions of dollars were confiscated from exporters/importers who violate the country's customs laws. Zimra spokesman Mr Francis Chimanda said the organisation stopped conducting rummage sales (auctions) in March last year, to observe the ongoing Covid-19 management protocols.

"The Authority is facing challenges in conducting rummage sales for goods that have overstayed in State Warehouses. However, arrangements are being put in place to assist in the disposal of overstayed goods.

"The bulk of the detained goods in warehouses include motor vehicles, controlled goods such as used household furniture, groceries, and used clothing," said Mr Chimanda.

Rummage sales are ordinarily conducted on a quarterly basis and the sale dates are promulgated in a Statutory Instrument.

The situation at the border has been compounded the shortage of warehouses, with at least three have been burnt under unclear circumstances in the last five years. It is envisaged that things could be even better after two years upon completion of the US$300 million modernisation project.

More freight terminals and state warehouses are set for construction under the project.

Mr Chimanda said the tax collector had tightened screws on  smuggling which has seen the authority netting $13 million and US$120 000 in extra import duties from smugglers in the last 30 days alone. He said between January 5 and February 5 this year they made 47 seizures (confiscation of goods) as compared to 22 within the same period last year.

etween January 5 and February 5 last year we recovered duties amounting to $105 664,49 after making 22 seizures and this year during the same period we collected a total of $13 893 920,20 and US$119 236.21 from 47 seizures," said Mr Chimanda.

He said the bulk of the goods being smuggled between Zimbabwe and South Africa include groceries, beers and other alcoholic beverages, chicken cuts, used tyres, various meats, fruit and building material.

Zimra has also introduced the 100 percent search initiative on all cargo mostly being carried in light commercial trucks with a carrying capacity of between 15 tonnes and 20 tonnes. This followed an upsurge in a trend of false declarations by either the transporters or the importers.

Source - the herald

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