Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau
Customs clearing agents and transporters have called on Government to dump the Automated System for Customs Data (Asycuda World Plus) which is always down and delaying the movement of commercial cargo across borders.
Shipping and Forwarding Agents Association of Zimbabwe chief executive Mr Joseph Musariri said the Internet-based clearance system had become a headache in the sector. He was addressing a meeting for customs clearing agents and cross-border haulage trucks operators held in Beitbridge recently.
“Other countries, including South Africa, Kenya, Mozambique and Mauritius, are using modern systems with less hustles,” said Mr Musariri. “We are very worried with the current state of affairs, where the movement of cargo and international trade is affected by the constant breakdown of Asycuda World Plus system.
“Numerous engagements have been made with zimra (Zimbabwe Revenue Authority) over the issues,but to no avail. In our last meeting with them, we recommended that Government considers adopting a modern system to use for customs clearance.”
zimra has been failing to resuscitate the Asycuda system which went down in November last year. Mr Musariri said Zimra’s decision to manually clear goods had resulted in the slow movement of cargo at border posts.
“We are waiting with keen interest to see how they will revamp the Asycuda system,” he said.
“zimra has assured us that they have paid for three new servers which are yet to be delivered, but for the meantime the situation on the ground is deplorable.” Mr Musariri said reports indicated that delays at most of Zimbabwe’s borders were related to poor standard operational procedures by zimra.
He said although the customs authority had adopted the manual clearance system, they had failed to set operational guidelines to enhance efficiency. Some of the customs clearing agents who spoke during the same meeting raised concern over what they called “a mercenary attitude of customs officers at Beitbridge”.
They urged zimra to review its system of acquittals with regards to the movement of transit cargo and the processing of Commercial Vehicle Guarantees (CVG). Under the customs laws, the CVG acts as a guarantee for foreign registered commercial trucks entering the country with commercial cargo.