Source: Cargo stuck as importers struggle for permits | The Herald July 1, 2016
Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau
Commercial cargo has been stuck at Beitbridge Border Post for the past seven days as importers struggle to get permits to ship goods that are restricted from Open General Import Licence under Statutory Instrument (SI) number 64 of 2016.
The SI tightens screws on the import of basic commodities including food items, building material, furniture, toiletries and cooking oil among other things.
Several trucks are stuck on the South African side since the Zimbabwe side has no adequate space to accommodate them.
Under normal circumstances, the trucks proceed to Zimbabwean when the customs clearance of the cargo has been completed.
The same process applies for trucks leaving Zimbabwe for South Africa.
The Herald is reliably informed that the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) has resorted to requesting for a surety of $2 000 from importers.
Those who pay are allowed to bring in their shipments and the money is refunded upon production of the required permits.
However, individuals were by last night seen at the border making payments for various products that are restricted under the new import regulations.
Zimra communications department is yet to respond to e-mailed questions which were sent to them on Saturday.
Shipping and Forwarding Agents Association of Zimbabwe (SFAAZ) board member Mr Osbert Shumba confirmed the developments yesterday.
“We are still engaging Zimra and the Ministry of Industry and Commerce with the view of extending the window period prior to rolling out of the new regulations by at least 30 days.
“This will give the importers enough time to obtain the required permits. You will note that most of the goods were already in transit prior to the publication of the Statutory Instrument on 17 June,” he said.
He said although they were behind the Government’s efforts to promote the growth of local industries, there was a need for more consultations among stakeholders.
Mr Shumba said besides the effects of the new import regulations, trucks were still moving in and out of the country to South Africa contrary to reports that there was a standoff between the two countries.
“The importers were not given enough time to process the permits. Furthermore, getting these permits takes a minimum of seven days and that has caused a lot of delays in cargo movement.
“The problem is affecting our members and transporters and business is low these days,” said Mr Shumba.
Meanwhile, Zimra has written to cross-border operators threatening to seize their vehicles should they enter the country carrying the restricted goods without the required permits.
Bus crews are being made to sign declaration letters that they will abide by the new regulations prior to their departure from Zimbabwe.