The Shipping and Forwarding Agents’ Association (SFAAZ) said its members had incurred huge storage costs as a result of delays at the country’s entry points following the introduction of a new computerised cargo clearing system a few months ago.
SFAAZ chairperson, Joseph Musariri, said the new Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) software had cost them heavily as it took unusually long to clear goods at border posts.
“Although this was a very welcome development to the freight, forwarding and customs clearing fraternity, the system upgrade has caused serious challenges resulting in commercial customs clearing delays,” he said.
“We have no capacity to quantify the losses, but the new system has resulted in some goods being cleared after two or three days.
The delays have affected movement of transit cargo into and out of the region, in addition to the huge storage cost and demurrage costs that importers and exporter continue to incur. In our view the costs to industry and the region have been quite significant,” he said.
Demurrage is the detention in port of a vessel by the ship owner, as in loading or unloading, beyond the time allowed or agreed upon.
Musariri said a detained truck was charged between $200 and $300 for demurrage costs per day and the authorities were taking at least three days to clear the trucks.
He said each agent is supposed to pay $160 to the Environmental Management Agency per truck, $25 to the Ministry of Agriculture and another $25 to the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare per truck.
“This has resulted in some trucks abandoning the country as a transit route.
“We are at stability as a sector ,but there has not been any growth in the economy and players in the industry are scrambling for a small cake,” he said.