THE Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) has said it is setting up a crisis management team to be on the ground around the clock at Beitbridge Border Post to ensure efficiency and avoid congestion and delays.
The development comes at a time when the country’s Border Efficiency Management Systems (BEMS) Committee has with immediate effect resolved to fine errant transporters who arrive at Beitbridge without enough paperwork and take up space at the border post, causing congestion.
The need for customs processes to be done and duties to be paid before arrival at the border is mandatory but some transporters have been defying this rule.
As a result, at some point 20 or 30 commercial trucks will take up space causing bottlenecks in the smooth flow of traffic.
The BEMS Committee met transporters, freight forwarders, and other critical agencies yesterday.
Following the meeting, stakeholders recommended that Zimbabwean customs officers be seconded to the South African side of the border to control movement of cargo to avoid the leakages into the country of un-cleared goods.
It is understood that South Africans have been letting cargo pass disregarding the pre-notification system.
Zimra acting board chairperson, Mrs Josephine Matambo said they were looking at addressing the backlog on northbound traffic in the next 24 hours.
“In addition to other interventions, we are setting up a crisis management team to be on the ground around the clock implementing all the resolutions to the dot,” she said.
“We are going to be penalizing all those parking within the border beyond three hours and our team will be hard on the ground giving hourly reports to management. After having interactions with most drivers both regional and local we have discovered that some are arriving without toll fees and are parking and occupying space. They then wait for transporters or customs agents to make the payments to Zimborders”.
Mrs Matambo said in some instances transporters were taking longer than necessary to process payments with Zimborders.
She said the fines will go a long way in addressing issues of unnecessary parking within the border area.
The official said Zimborders was also working on extending the parking space to carry 70 more trucks by the beginning of next month. The parking on the imports section can carry at least 200 trucks at any given time.
“The other issue is that the drivers coming in from South Africa feel that our border is safe for resting and they would then park and not contact the agents or runners to release them until the next morning. Instead, they should arrive and process the papers and leave the border which is not a truck stop. They are avoiding truck parks in both countries,” said Mrs Matambo.
It has also been established that some drivers arriving before midnight don’t want to be cleared until the next day so that they have an extra day to claim more remuneration.
At the same time, customs agents and others are said to be working with skeletal staff at night despite the border operating on a 24-hour basis.
To enhance efficiency, the BEMS Committee has requested customs agents to make written commitments to Zimra to deliver around the clock. Those failing to deliver will be penalized.
“We have talked to Zimborders and they have assured us that their prepayment system should be up and running concurrently with our pre-clearance system in the next 24 hours. The idea is to make the traffic flow system as seamless as possible,” said Mrs Matambo.
Zimra’s acting commissioner-general, Mr Rameck Masaire said they were deploying more manpower to Beitbridge where they expect to have around 450 workers during the festive season.
He said they had also tendered for more mobile scanners they intend to deploy to Sadc’s busiest inland port to boost their enforcement and compliance section.