Commercial Cargo Volume Up 16% Despite Covid Challenges

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By Kenneth Matimaire

THE volume of commercial cargo into the country’s entry and exit points has improved by 15,9% during the first half of the year as compared to the same period last year.

Statistics gathered from the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) which clears both locally bound and transit cargo indicated a total of 151 667 commercial cargo was cleared between January and June this year from 130 822 recorded during the same period last year.

Information gathered also indicated that there was a 11,5% increase in transit cargo to 92 768 trucks from 83 131 trucks recorded during the period under review.

Locally bound cargo was also in the positive as 58 899 trucks were recorded from 47 691 trucks during the same period, which translates to a 23,5% increment.

The monthly average of commercial trucks movement also recorded a 11,5% surge to 15 461 trucks from 13 855 trucks during the first six months of the two comparative years.

ZIMRA attributed the increase to the exemption of commercial cargo which was not affected by movement restrictions during the current land border closures due to the deadly Covid-19 pandemic.

“The Covid-19 control measures in place do not restrict the movement of commercial traffic and thus there has not been a negative effect on the flow of commercial cargo in that regards,” said ZIMRA head of communications Francis Chimanda.

The development follows complaints raised last year by the Shipping and Forwarding Agency Association of Zimbabwe (SFAAZ) that although the movement of commercial cargo was exempted from border restrictions, the measures have however, prolonged the clearance of goods along the borders.

SFAAZ lamented most cargo faced unnecessary clearance delays, which saw most transit commercial cargo avoiding the country.

The delays affected the volume of commercial cargo trucks in transit, which decreased to 59% in 2020 from 64% the previous year.

However, SFAAZ chief executive Joseph Musariri alluded that there has been a great improvement during the first half of the year owing to the introduction of an automated pre-clearance system by the tax collector.

“Covid-19 has caused an automation of some processes which used to be manual. This has resulted in some improvement in the clearing process.

“The increase in volume in the first half of the year is also cyclic in that companies would have reopened after the previous year end annual closures. The reopening of business means coming in of new orders particularly for manufacturing companies,” said Musariri.