Thupeyo Muleya, Beitbridge Bureau
CUSTOMS clearing agents and transporters have called on the Government to dump the existing Automated System for Customs Data (Asycuda World plus) which is delaying the movement of commercial cargo at the country’s borders.
The Shipping and Forwarding Agents Association of Zimbabwe’s (SFAAZ) chief executive officer Mr Joseph Musariri said the Internet-based clearance system had become a headache due to continuous breakdowns.
“Other countries including South Africa, Kenya, Mozambique and Mauritius were using modern systems with less hustles,” said Mr Musariri while addressing a meeting for customs clearing agents and cross-border haulage trucks operators in Beitbridge on Tuesday.
“We are very worried with the state of affairs, where the movement of cargo and international trade is affected by the constant breakdown of Asycuda World Plus.
“Numerous engagements have been made with Zimra (Zimbabwe Revenue Authority) over the issue but no lasting solution has been found.
He said as stakeholders they had recommended the use of modern system for customs clearance.
Mr Musariri said the Asycuda system has been down since the two servers Zimra was using gave in.
He said the revenue authority had resorted to clearing goods manually, a development which has resulted in the slow movement of cargo at the borders.
“We are waiting with keen interest to see how they will bring back to operation the Asycuda system.
“Zimra has assured us that they have paid for three new servers which are yet to be delivered, but for the meantime the situation on the ground is deplorable,” he said.
Mr Musariri said according to reports on the ground, some of the issues causing delays at the country ports, especially Beitbridge, were related to poor standard operational procedures by Zimra.
He said though the customs authority had adopted the manual clearance system, it has failed to set operational guidelines to enhance efficiency.
Some of the customs clearing agents who spoke during the same meeting raised concern over what they called a “mercenary attitude” by customs officers at Beitbridge.
They also urged Zimra to review its system of acquittals with regards to the movement of transit cargo and the processing of Commercial Vehicle Guarantees (CVG).
Under the customs laws, the CVG acts as a guarantee for foreign registered commercial trucks entering the country with commercial cargo.