The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority has cornered fuel dealers who used to divert the product to the black market by adopting the Electronic Cargo Tracking System (ECTS) which tracks fuel tankers to their indicated destinations.
Some of the dealers have since chickened out, leading to the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (NOIC) recording declining figures on those requesting the product.
ECTS has managed to reduce cases of diversion of fuel from the NOIC depots, transit fraud and the dumping of illegal fuel imports on the domestic market.
Speaking during the official launch of the tracking system on Friday, Zimra Commissioner-General Ms Faith Mazani said she was confident that the cargo tracking system would go a long way in reducing the cost of doing business and promote trade.
"Fuel withdrawal from NOIC, Msasa Depot purported to be for export reduced greatly after the introduction of electronic sealing," she said. "Before the introduction of the system in 2016, 2 320 trucks withdrew fuel for export, but the figure reduced to 942 in 2017 and further went down to 162 in 2018.
"ECTS has yielded positive results, which have been felt in the market, notably the four trucks intercepted at Chirundu Boarder Post after it was discovered that they had tampered with the seals and replaced the fuel they were carrying with water. The trucks were seized and the offender was persecuted.
Comm-Gen Mazani said the importation of fuel which had reached record highs through the Kazungula Border Post abruptly stopped when the electronic system was extended to that frontier, indicating the existence of smuggling rackets.
"The importation of fuel which had so much increased through Kazungula abruptly stopped when electronic sealing was extended to that border, pointing to a smuggling syndicate that started using that port of entry," she said
Comm-Gen Mazanhi said the adoption of the new system saved clearance time for the trucks because those that were electronically sealed were no longer subjected to physical examination and scanning, thereby improving the turnaround times for cargo movement.
"Electronically sealed trucks are no longer being subjected to physical examination and scanning, thereby improving the turnaround times of movement of cargo, facilitating trade and reducing the manpower needed for inspection," she said.
"Revenues from excise duty on fuels like petrol and diesel also increased from ZWL$ 490 000 in 2017 to ZWL$539 000 in 2018. This was despite the fact that during the period under review the rates of duty had actually been reduced."
Comm-Gen Mazani said the electronic cargo tracking system involved the use of electronic seals device which were attached to the transit cargo and uses geo-fencing technology.
"The monitoring provided by ECTS is real time and the sealed cargo will constantly be under the ECTS control room radar throughout the geo-fenced route," she said. "The electronic device sealed to the transiting cargo is linked to the control room and reports any violations or any tampering.
"Any violation and tampering alarms are promptly attended to by the stand-by Zimra Reaction Teams for corrective action, which may involve penalties or seizure of the cargo depending on gravity of the offence."
The ECTS system tracks and monitors transit cargo from the point of entry into Zimbabwe to the point of exit using electronic seals attached to the cargo, covering containerised and break bulk cargo, as well as fuel tankers.