THE Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) has reverted to manual cargo clearance in response to complaints over the technical inefficiency of the automated e-road cargo manifest system.
A number of customs agents have been failing to access the new online system to process import/export documents in the last few days. As a result 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).
At the moment Zimra clients are failing to log onto the system to initiate the clearance of goods. Zimra spokesperson, Mr Francis Chimanda, said the challenge being faced with the implementation of the e-Road Cargo Manifest emanates from the delayed application for Asycuda World profiles by transporters.
“After the implementation of the module, Zimra received a huge influx of applications, which it is now processing.
However, as an interim measure and to ensure that traffic is not delayed at ports of entry Zimra will be accepting manual submission of road cargo manifests for transporters who can prove that they have submitted applications for Asycuda World profiles,” he said.
Mr Chimanda encouraged transporters to timeously submit their applications for Asycuda World profiles. The advantages of the new automated module, he said, include reduced dwell-time at the ports of entry as the manifests are registered and processed before the goods arrive at the border posts.
The system also reduces face to face human contact, which mitigates against the spread of the dreaded Covid-19 virus.
“The management and mark off of the automated road cargo manifest is done automatically by the system as the clearance bills of entry are registered and processed, thus, enhancing controls and improving the turnaround time of clearances,” said Mr Chimanda.
“It also brings about enhanced security in the collection of State revenue and this is a trade facilitation initiative that promotes ease of doing business.
“Additionally, there are reduced cost of doing business as clients will not come to Zimra offices and it is an effective tool in the fight against corruption”.
Mr Chimanda said, transporters (both local and foreign) and clearing agents were engaged throughout the process of development and prior to the implementation of the automated e-road cargo manifest.
The training and awareness programme, he said, was done in August this year and that the transporters operations association in Zimbabwe, regional transporters and clearing agents’ associations were all engaged. Mr Chimanda said 1158 local transporters, 181 foreign transporters and 178 customs clearing agents were also provided with training on the new initiative prior to the implementation of the module.
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (ZINARA) said it was ready to engage more staffers to deal with an increase in vehicular traffic during the festive season. Zinara spokesperson, Mr Tendai Mugabe said so far they were handling 1 200 trucks daily up from 600.
“We are having five traffic controllers at the border who started in October and we hope this will go a long way in managing the flow of traffic. We were short-staffed and we have been replaced,” he said.
“The major plan is to have a seamless flow of traffic and avoid having static vehicles on the New Limpopo Bridge. Our intention is to keep the bridge clear with the cooperation of other stakeholders.”