Zimra system breakdown affects business
Thupeyo Muleya and Pamela Shumba
HUNDREDS of commercial car importers are stranded at Beitbridge and Kazungula border posts, where cargo has been stuck for more than a week due to a Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) system breakdown. Zimra uses the Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA), which is Internet-based to process customs data.
Importers bringing in commercial vehicles have been waiting for the system to be restored for the past week, while some have gone back home, leaving their vehicles behind. The authority is using a manual system to clear private vehicles and transit trucks.
Zimra head of communications Mr Canisio Mudzimu last week said normal services would be restored on Friday. But the system is still down and this has stalled the movement of commercial cargo. “Zimra wishes to assure its clients that as the technical problem is being attended to, inconveniences will be minimised as much as possible to facilitate smooth movement of human and vehicular traffic,” said Mr Mudzimu last week. Commercial car importers expressed anger over the inconvenience, saying they had been forced to spend more money due to the system breakdown.
“My vehicle arrived at the Kazungula Border on Monday last week and I was told that I had to wait until the system was up for them to start the clearing process,” said Mr Solomon Tshuma from Bulawayo.
“I’ve been stuck here since then and there’s no progress at all. I’ve spent a lot of money on accommodation and food. This is not fair. Zimra should do something about this. What kind of a system fails for a whole week while people wait? A lot of people are losing business due to such poor service.”
Mr Tshuma said if the system was functioning as usual, he would have registered his vehicle and started running his business. At the Beitbridge Border Post, impatient car importers accused Zimra of lacking customer care.
“We have been waiting for several days for our vehicles to be cleared,” said Mr Crispen Chipato, a car importer from Masvingo. There was a system failure and nothing is being done. This is grossly unfair and we urge Zimra to urgently address this problem. All they do is tell customers that the system is down and they relax.
“They don’t care how much money people spend as they wait here for the system to normalise. Some people had to go back home.”
Mr Phineas Makhwelo, a local clearing agent blamed Zimra for failing to address the problem, accusing the organisation of poor service. Customs clearing agents said the ASYCUDA system, which was adopted by Zimra in 2011, had been constantly breaking down since the beginning of this year. They said this was bad for international trade and local business, adding that some cargo shipment businesses were recording losses due to the delays.
Clearing agents said on average, transporters incur losses of $200 to $500 per day due to delays at the border. An average of 600 trucks enter the country through Beitbridge Border Post daily, with one third of these in transit to countries north of the Zambezi River. Last year alone, a total of 73 000 haulage trucks in transit used the port of entry.