Government’s new hi-tech system boosts border anti-smuggling drive Mr Batsirai Chadzingwa

Thupeyo Muleya, [email protected]

THE introduction of hi-tech security systems at the Beitbridge Border Post including drone surveillance systems has helped Government to increase its capacity to curb leakages at the port of entry.

Since the launch of the drone systems and fast cargo scanners by Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion, Minister Prof Mthuli Ncube in January, the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) has been able to intercept smuggled goods.

Under the new order, authorities will be able to increase surveillance in all hotspot areas and minimise the loss of revenue.

It is understood that more drones and fast scanners will soon be deployed to other border posts including Forbes and Chirundu.

So far ZIMRA is operating with seven drones at Beitbridge Border Post while more are expected.

Speaking during a visit by the Public Accounts Committee at Beitbridge recently, ZIMRA’s Commissioner for Customs and Excise, Mr Batsirai Chadzingwa said all the 16 state warehouses at the border are overflowing with detained goods.

“We have 16 State warehouses at Beitbridge where we keep goods detained in terms of Section 39 of the Customs and Excise Act,” said Mr Chadzingwa.

He said most goods were intercepted for falling under the restricted or prohibited goods category and these include meat.

Some are seized for being smuggled, general non-compliance with import or export regulations, controls, false declarations, and incorrect Customs tariff classifications.

Mr Chadzingwa said goods on receipt for items held (RIH) were being kept in State warehouses for 60 days while those on Notice of Seizure were being kept for 90 days.

“So to clear the warehouse, we use various methods of disposal including rummage sale, informal tender, destruction, and appropriation to the State,” he said.

“In case of the appropriation of goods, the beneficiaries include Government departments, hospitals and social welfare organisations and the fresh farm produce and perishables are appropriated to local prisons and hospitals.”

Mr Chadzingwa said as interceptions are increasing daily, they are having a serious shortage of warehousing space.

The smuggling of goods is on the rise and they are mainly detected through the use of drone technology.

Mr Chadzingwa said ZIMRA has a limited capacity for destruction facilities, especially for the destruction of bottled beverages.

“As much as we continue to make interceptions, the warehouses are overflowing because we have limited capacity of destruction facilities and we have challenges with recommended methods of destruction,” he said.

“In some instances, the rodents in warehouses are destroying or soiling goods. Additionally, most alcoholic beverages except for Heineken products do not meet the requirements of Public Health Act Cap 15:17 and Food Standards Act Cap.15:04 and there are high costs attached to destruction of some goods.”

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