Forbes Bor­der Post chaos irks Min­is­ter

The Manica Post - - Front Page - Rumbidzayi Zinyuke Se­nior Re­porter

MIN­IS­TER of State for Man­i­ca­land Af­fairs Dr Ellen Gwaradz­imba has lashed out the Zim­babwe Rev­enue Au­thor­ity for al­low­ing the chaos at Forbes bor­der post to con­tinue un­abated re­sult­ing in un­man­age­able con­ges­tion and long queues stretch­ing about 15km into Mozam­bique.

The bor­der post, which caters for most goods in tran­sit from the port of Beira, has been ren­dered in­ef­fec­tive for al­most three weeks now, as trucks spend days wait­ing for cus­toms clear­ance.

The min­is­ter on Mon­day vis­ited Forbes with mem­bers of the Joint Op­er­a­tions Com­mand (JOC) where she wit­nessed the long queues. She also toured the Mutare Dry Port fa­cil­ity, where she was ad­vised that, de­spite not be­ing fully oc­cu­pied at the mo­ment, there were trucks that had been in the hold­ing bay for about 17 days due to ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties that were picked by Zimra of­fi­cials.

“As we speak, you say there are some trucks with 17 days here. What could be the is­sues keep­ing those trucks here with­out a solution? 17 days is too much, is it car­ry­ing weapons or some­thing that threat­ens na­tional se­cu­rity? Stor­age charges are ac­cu­mu­lat­ing on these trucks, don’t just sit and wait for the so­lu­tions to come to you. En­gage who­ever is sup­posed to in­ter­vene so that these trucks are cleared and re­leased,” she said.

“This is a clear case of oper­a­tional in­ef­fi­cien­cies and it shows that you are not co-or­di­nat­ing. Zimra and clear­ing agents, you throw the blame at each other but have you tried sit­ting down to come up with a quick solution to this? In this new dis­pen­sa­tion, if you are not go­ing to change the way we do busi­ness, we will get nowhere.”

Dr Gwaradz­imba said there was an ur­gent need to im­prove on oper­a­tional ef­fi­cien­cies to fa­cil­i­tate trade pro­mo­tion.

“I don’t see why we should make news, na­tion­ally and in­ter­na­tion­ally. Be­cause the peo­ple we are de­lay­ing are en­route to other coun­tries and they will say Zim­babwe is very dif­fi­cult to work with. We are go­ing to do what­ever it takes and those wind­ing queues will dis­ap­pear. This pre-clear­ance fa­cil­ity should be utilised, have an in­cen­tive for im­porters who utilise it or a penalty for those who do not use it. We need to re­store or­der here,” she said.

Zimra en­force­ment man­ager Mr Clif­ford Cham­boko said the im­me­di­ate solution to the cri­sis at the bor­der was cre­at­ing a mo­bile check point within the bor­der premises to sep­a­rate the truck­ers from or­di­nary peo­ple who used the bor­der.

Cur­rently, truck­ers, tourists and in­di­vid­u­als who are cross­ing the bor­der on busi­ness have to wait in the same queue to be cleared.

“We have ac­quired a mo­bile sta­tion but we had chal­lenges with the sup­plier who has been putting some fin­ish­ing touches on the struc­ture. We hope that it will be de­liv­ered in the next two weeks,” he said.

He said some of the con­ges­tion was be­ing caused by im­porters that were not pre-clear­ing their con­sign­ments to al­low them quick pas­sage through the bor­der.

“We usu­ally push trucks that reach the bor­der be­fore clear­ance is done in­land through use of an em­bargo doc­u­ment and they go into the hold­ing bay at Mutare Dry Port. But we have re­alised that some clear­ing agents in­stead of com­ing for­ward to process doc­u­ments to fa­cil­i­tate move­ment of trucks to GMS, they are sub­mit­ting en­tries into the sys­tem so that they ap­pear as if it has been pre-cleared. So the clear­ance sys­tem takes a bit of time re­sult­ing in

◆ From Page 1 con­ges­tion and less traf­fic be­ing moved to GMS,” said Mr Cham­boko.

Zimra’s pre-clear­ance fa­cil­ity al­lows im­porters to sub­mit their doc­u­ments up to three weeks be­fore the goods ar­rive at the bor­der. The clear­ing agents have how­ever said the pre-clear­ance fa­cil­ity was in­ef­fi­cient as there were still more pro­cesses for the im­porter to go through be­fore the truck was re­leased even af­ter sub­mit­ting their pa­pers be­fore reach­ing the bor­der.

Ship­ping and For­ward­ing Agents As­so­ci­a­tion of Zim­babwe vice chair­per­son Mr God­frey Muswere said Gov­ern­ment should stream­line the pro­cesses done at the bor­der post to fa­cil­i­tate the smooth flow of traf­fic.

“What cre­ates con­ges­tion are the long pro­ce­dures at this bor­der post by Zimra. In­stead of shoot­ing through to the hold­ing bay, trucks have to go through sev­eral pro­ce­dures be­fore they can go through. Ex­pe­ri­ence has shown that even those that have pre-cleared their goods end up be­ing in the same sit­u­a­tion or even more de­layed than those that come and present their doc­u­ments as they wait,” he said.

Mr Muswere said the pro­ce­dures done at the bor­der could be re­duced while the rest are de­ferred un­til the truck reached the hold­ing bay.

“It is only a 7km patch. There can be a mech­a­nism to mon­i­tor those trucks un­til they get into the hold­ing bay. We should ra­tio­nalise the pro­ce­dures so that driv­ers just go to the hold­ing point and be cleared from there,” he said.

Fol­low­ing the Min­is­ter’s fol­low up visit to the bor­der post on Wed­nes­day, Zimra had be­gun to move trucks into GMS but due to slow pro­cesses at that hold­ing fa­cil­ity, trucks were still stuck. Truck­ers who spoke to The Man­ica Post said Zimra had only man­aged to move the con­ges­tion from the bor­der area into the hold­ing bay but the chal­lenges were still the same.

“Yes­ter­day the trucks moved into GMS but now the same trucks have to go through the scan, phys­i­cal ex­am­i­na­tion and then sealed. But these pro­cesses are al­most the same so the queue has grown. Trucks that want to leave can­not be­cause there are trucks wait­ing to be scanned clos­ing off the exit. The space is too small to hold all these trucks,” said Mr Lexus Masango.

He said Zimra was fail­ing to con­trol the sit­u­a­tion as the pro­ce­dures at the bor­der were still too many be­fore a truck could be re­leased.

“In Mozam­bique, we only spend five min­utes or less at the cus­toms desk be­cause all clear­ance is done in Beira. But when we get to the Zim­bab­wean side, we then meet with peo­ple who are in­ef­fi­cient.

“Some of these trucks were pre-cleared but they can­not pass be­cause they need to go through the scan, so they have to wait un­til those that are not yet cleared fin­ish be­fore it goes,” he said.

—Pic­ture by Abel Zhakata.

Stuck...Hun­dreds of haulage trucks queue just out­side the Mutare Dry Port await­ing clear­ance by Zimra of­fi­cials. The queue is re­port­edly stretch­ing for 15 km into Mozam­bique.

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