Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau
The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) has started acquiring electric seals for transit break bulk cargo, mostly being carried in flat bed trailers in a move set to reduce incidents of transit fraud, an official has said.
Zimra board secretary and director of Legal and Corporate Services Ms Florence Jambwa confirmed the developments yesterday.
She said transit fraud resulted in situations where importers declared that goods were in transit (removal in transit — RIT) to neighbouring countries, yet they would be offloaded in Zimbabwe.
Ms Jambwa said as a result of such activities, the country was losing a lot of potential revenue to criminals.
Under the customs laws, specified goods attract excise duty during importation into the country.
Said Mrs Jambwa: “The Electronic Cargo Tracking System (ECTS) was rolled out early this year to curb transit fraud and to safeguard revenue in line with our mandate.
“Processes are under way to enhance the system through several means, which include procurement of gadgets to monitor break bulk cargo as you have alluded to in your questions. These enhancements are ongoing processes.
“We introduced the ECTS to combat fraudulent activities associated with the movement of transit cargo, particularly situations where importers declare that goods are in transit to neighbouring countries, yet the cargo is offloaded in Zimbabwe”.
Ms Jambwa said the system involved the tracking of transiting cargo in real time throughout the entire route from point of entry to point of exit.
She said the ECT system was one of the best under the World Customs Organisation (WCO).
The ECT, she said, gave instant alarms on any violations and this triggered the intervention of the dedicated reaction teams.
In most cases, commercial goods are transported in tankers, containers and flat bed trailers covered with tents (break bulk).
At the moment, Zimra has seals for tankers and containers and this has seen criminals preferring to transport goods as break bulk to evade the seals.
Most of the controlled goods which are finding their way to the local market through transit fraud include cooking oil, washing powder, assorted groceries, genetically modified goods and banned medicines.
Ms Jambwa said Beitbridge Border Post handled an average of 200 transit vehicles per day destined for countries north of the Zambezi River, including Zambia, Malawi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
It is reported that ZIMRA collects 30 percent of Government revenue and out of that, 70 percent of it is collected at Beitbridge.
During a visit to Beitbridge late last year, Home Affairs Minister, Dr Ignatius Chombo, said Zimra was netting $800 000 per day against a potential of $2 million.
He said the parastatal could not collect enough due to increased rampant smuggling of controlled goods.
Recently, Zimra intercepted four tankers at Chirundu which were carrying 140 000 litres of water purported to be diesel that was in transit to DRC.
The state lost close to $55 000 after the fuel which entered the country through Forbes Border Post under the RIT facility was emptied in Chitungwiza and replaced with water.