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Cumbersome border clearances hampering ease of doing business; trucks take several days to be cleared, raising costs

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By Felix Matasva, Manicaland Correspondent 


ZIMBABWEAN transport operators have urged government to streamline cumbersome ports of entry import customs clearance processes, describing the current regulations as counterproductive.

In a critical reflection of the transport and logistics sector during the Shipping and Forwarding Agents Association of Zimbabwe (SFAAZ) 16th Annual conference held in Mutare, captains of the industry called for a coordinated approach to customs processes.

Transport Operators Association Zimbabwe (TOAZ) general manager, Wilfred Ramwi, said delays emanating from long clearance processes should be streamlined for ease of doing business to counter negative impacts pushing customers to opt for alternative regional ports of entry.

“Research has shown that upwards of 70% of cross border transport costs in Zimbabwe relates to delays at border posts.

“The trucks sometimes take several days to be released at the ports of entry. We have made several requests for border operations to be interrogated and get the key players to find fresh insights in their operations to address inefficiencies,” Ramwi said.

“There is a greater need for improvement as transporters continuously fail to meet targets in delivery times, which has jeopardised our regional competitiveness.

“Our traders are now rerouting more of their traffic cargo to DRC, Malawi and Zambia through the ports of Walvis Bay in Namibia and Dar es Salam in Tanzania as opposed to Durban and Beira to avoid transit through Zimbabwe, where border posts delays effectively increase transport costs as well as factory warehousing costs caused by failure to meet just in time deliveries.”

Ramwi said delays at points of entry should  not seriously affect business, but at levels that facilitate trade and development.

Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) customs and excise commissioner, Batsirai Chadzingwa attributed delays being experienced by truckers at Forbes Border post to infrastructure deficiencies.

He laid the blame on Zambian authorities pertaining delays at Chirundu Border Post, saying all trucks seen queuing at Zimbabwean side will be awaiting clearance on the Zambezi side.

“It is high time government takes note of developments at Forbes Border Post. Zimbabwe being a land linked country must compliment that by putting more resources at Forbes Border Post.

“The recent facelift of Beit Bridge Border Post has improved our efficiency and such a development should also be extended to Forbes Border Post. Government support is needed,” said Chadzingwa.

Information minister, Monica Mutsvangwa, said government was looking at ways of ‘automation’ of the border post so as to reduce cost at entry points.

She noted that efforts were being made to set up dry ports in order to decongest the country’s ports of entry.

“Government is constantly looking at ways of improving systems of clearing exports and imports.

“More reliance must be put in automation of systems, which is the right direction if we are going to reduce time and cost in the movement of goods,” said Mutsvangwa.