Shipping and freight forwarding agents based at Beitbridge Border Post have appealed for Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa’s intervention to resolve their impasse with Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) officials, which they blamed for causing unnecessary delays at the country’s busiest port of entry.
BY OWN CORRESPONDENT
The issue was raised during a Shipping and Forwarding Association of Zimbabwe (SFAAZ) meeting held on Tuesday, where stakeholders, including transport operators resolved to rope in Chinamasa to urgently resolve their fallout with Zimra.
SFAAZ accused Zimra officials of looking down on other players and always exhibiting a “master and servant” relationship.
“Customs officers are rude and look down upon us. They take every submission we make with a pinch of salt. They take us to be crooks and not partners,” Allan Wack and Shepherd Clearing company manager, Callisto Ganda, said.
They scan vehicles and then take the same for physical examinations duplicating processes.
“We must be respected as partners and not viewed as crooks. We do business in South Africa and we are treated differently, here we are animals and in the foreign country we are partners.”
The shipping agents claimed they had tried to raise similar concerns with the Zimra board, but with little success.
The agents want Zimra’s customs and excise department to dump its “unreliable” Asycuda World Plus online system and adopt systems used by other countries in the region.
SFAAZ official, Joseph Musariri described the Zimra Customs and Excise online system as a disaster.
“Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, South Africa and all other countries in the region use other systems that are reliable,” he said.
The customs online system which, crashed a month ago, has not been fixed.
The agents complained about the failure to prioritise physical examination of goods in the depots and slow processing of commercial vehicle guarantees (CVG), which are always done at night.
Besides, they also highlighted under staffing at Beitbridge attributed to lack of staff accommodation.
Most shipping agents feel they should be consulted in the upgrading of the border post.
The government last week allocated $100 million for the Beitbridge Border Post upgrade.
Apart from other infrastructural improvements, the construction of another bridge is being mooted to ease bottlenecks at Beitbridge, which serves the Sadc region.
Efforts to get a comment from Chinamasa were fruitless with one of his aides, Patrick Tuluzawu, saying the Treasury boss had forwarded Southern Eye’s emailed questions to Zimra.
“Sorry, I’m in a meeting. We sent your questions to Zimra for urgent responses,” Tuluzawu said.
Efforts to get a comment from Zimra spokesperson, Canisio Mudzimu were fruitless as he did not respond to forwarded questions.