The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Car Importers Stranded As Zimra Clearance System Goes Offline

Scores of car importers were left stranded at Beitbridge Border Post on Wednesday after the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority's (Zimra) vehicle clearance system went offline for eight hours.

The system developed a technical glitch at around 7am and operations only resumed after 3pm.

Zimra introduced the ASYCUDA plus system for processing vehicle imports in March this year in a bid to ensure efficiency and reduce regular interface between the customs officers and its clients.

Asycuda is (Automated System for Customs Data) is a more efficient and advanced system for customs data processing since it is internet based.

However, connectivity has remained a major challenge at the Manica Bonded warehouse where vehicle imports are processed.

When The Herald visited the bonded warehouse yesterday restless car importers were seen moving around the yard while others were making numerous inquiries from the Zimra help desk.

In separate interviews motorists advised the revenue authorities to consider having a back-up plan in case of the Asycuda system breakdown.

"We are usually delayed here as a result of this system they are using, but why can't they put measures in place to address this. We are business people and time is not on our side," said Mr Leonard Shoko.

He said it was worrying that the revenue authority had introduced the Asycuda system yet they had little capacity to sustain it.

It was the second time in a week that the Asycuda system went offline after operations came to a standstill on Friday last week.

Prior to the introduction of Asycuda system, Zimra had been using a station based system which operated with very few technical glitches.

Figures from Zimra show that between 60 and 100 vehicle imports are processed at Manica per day and rise to 120 during peak times.

Asycuda system is connected to the parastatal's national grid which is accessible at any of its stations countrywide. Efforts to get a comment form Zimra spokesperson Canisio Mudzimu and Taungana Ndoro yesterday were fruitless as both their office and mobile phones went unanswered.

Upon its introduction the system left little room for wheeling and dealing between its employees and criminals.

A Zimra official who chose anonymity said a technical glitch had arisen on the Asycuda system adding that technicians were working flat out to address the problem.

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