Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau
Trucks, mainly those carrying goods known as consolidated cargo, where a single load has multiple owners, have been piling up at Beitbridge Border Post in the last five days after the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority introduced the 100-percent compliance searches to smash what it believes is rampant smuggling.
Cross border transporters, commonly known as omalayitsha, yesterday accused Zimra of implementing the new system without thoroughly preparing for it.
The omalayitsha share a truck to combine their small loads and it is precisely these arrangements where Zimra believes there are many openings for smuggling.
Over 70 trucks were at the border on the commercial arrival side and the drivers had become restless.
In separate interviews, the truckers said Zimra did not have adequate manpower to conduct the physical examination of goods.
They said in some cases, they were made to pay additional duty despite having used the pre-clearance system to minimise delays.
Under the pre-clearance system, goods are declared and duty is paid before the consignment gets to the port of entry.
Once these goods arrive, they are only checked for compliance, making the crossing seamless. This is opposed to be a scenario where the whole clearance process is done upon arrival at the country’s borders.
“I have been here for four days; nothing is moving and most of us are carrying groceries, among them perishables,” said Mr Aron Mangavha. “Customs authorities want to search every vehicle and we don’t have any problem with that.
“Our concerns arise from the fact that they are searching between two and three trucks daily, which is not sustainable.”
Another driver who preferred anonymity said they had tried to engage the local Zimra managers in the last three days without success.
“This is antagonising our relationship with clients considering that declarations are made in advance and we have to go back to them asking for top ups,” said the driver.
Mr Nyasha Machaya said previously they would spend less than three hours to conclude all the border processes, adding that the new regulations had seen them incurring extra costs in hiring labour to offload and reload the goods,since Zimra did not have adequate manpower. “To make matters worse, we are at risk of Covid-19 infections as you can see we are now crowded with limited ablution and related sanitation facilities,” he said.
Zimra spokesperson, Mr Francis Chimanda, could not readily respond to the issues yesterday, but an official at Beitbridge said the 100 percent searches were a response to the rampant cases of smuggling involving omalayitsha.