Archives For Beit Bridge

Police are on high alert looking for a syndicate that uses donkeys to smuggle luxury cars across the Limpopo River into the Zimbabwe.

Thieves tied ropes to the cars which were hitched on to the donkeys to pull the cars across the river.

Some cars are driven through the drier parts of the river. On Tuesday, a Mercedes Benz C220 was intercepted before it disappeared into Zimbabwe.

“Our members were just in time to pounce on them after the donkeys were apparently no longer able to pull it through the sand,” Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo  for the SA Police Service said.

The suspects fled into the bushes towards Zimbabwe side. Most of the cars are being smuggled across the river through the border between South Africa and Zimbabwe, south of Beitbridge border post.

In December, police recovered a Hilux bakkie when thieves attempted to smuggle it through the river. The bakkie was stolen in Durban.

It was semi-submerged in the water when Limpopo police commissioner Lieutenant-General Nneke Ledwaba spotted it from a helicopter while he was leading a high-density operation in Musina and Beitbridge.

The vehicle and donkeys were abandoned in the middle of the river and the suspect fled into Zimbabwe. It is not clear why the thieves do not simply driver the car into Zimbabwe – one reason might be that most modern cars are fitted with a tracking device which uses satellite tracking to locate a vehicle, if stolen. The tracker is only active when the car is running.

Mojapelo said 13 vehicles have been recovered since January this year. Thieves target luxury bakkies, SUV’s, specifically Toyota and Isuzu. Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal are the two provinces that are mostly affected.

Last week, four vehicles were recovered. A Range Rover worth R900 000 was recovered after police intercepted it at the Beitbridge border post. The vehicle was en route to Malawi. The man was arrested and was found in possession of cash with an estimated amount of R30 000.

Mojapelo said the car had Limpopo registration numbers, but it was still unclear where it was stolen. Source: Pictures – SAPS and article – Iavan Pijoos, News24, 2 August 2017.

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Zimbabweans protesting against restrictions on imports of basic goods from South Africa have forced the closure of the border post between Zimbabwe and South Africa on Friday.

On June 17, the Zimbabwean government said that it was suspending imports of products including bottled water, furniture, building materials, steel products, cereals, potato crisps and dairy products, most of which arrive from South Africa. A Statutory Instrument No. 64 of 2016 which effectively tightens the screws on the import of these products is purportedly intended to target businesses and not ordinary travellers buying goods for personal consumption. However, Zimbabwean Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) officials continued to demand permits and confiscate the listed goods, sparking the chaos.

A warehouse owned by ZIMRA for the storing of illicit goods seized from people crossing the border was set alight by the protesters on Friday, 1 July 2016.

More than 85% of working age Zimbabweans have no formal job and many make a living by buying goods in South Africa to sell in Zimbabwe. Source: New Zimbabwean/ Reuters.

Zimra-press statementThe movement of commercial cargo has relatively improved at most of the country’s ports after the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) addressed some of the teething challenges affecting its customs online clearance system. Zimra is now using an advanced Automated System for Customs Data (Asycuda) for clearing commercial cargo entering or leaving the country.

However, when Zimra started upgrading its online clearance system on May 10, cargo had been stuck due to a systems failure at most of the country’s borders especially at Beitbridge Border Post, the busiest port of entry in Zimbabwe and gateway to Southern Africa.

Close to 15 000 haulage trucks per month pass through Beitbridge going either side of the border.

Zimra’s director of corporate and legal affairs, Florence Jambga, said in a recent statement that the upgrading of the customs clearing system had met with technical challenges.

“The authority is in the process of rectifying these challenges for normal online transactions to continue. Alternative measures have been put in place at all ports of entry and exit to facilitate smooth movement of cargo and reduce inconveniences to our valued clients.

“Zimra, therefore, urges its clients to approach their respective station managers for any challenges they may encounter in the movement of their cargo during this transitional period. Any inconveniences caused during this period are sincerely regretted,” she said.

In separate interviews, customs clearing agents and importers yesterday said the movement of cargo had improved as from Saturday evening.

Shipping and Forwarding Agents Association of Zimbabwe board member Mr Osbert Shumba said though the situation had relatively improved, they remained cautious.

“We will continue to monitor the situation and we are very hopeful that things will get back to normal as soon as possible,” he said.

At the Beitbridge Border Post, commercial cargo had been stuck there since Sunday last week resulting in truckers piling up on the South African side of the border.

Under a normal clearance system, cargo has to move to either side of the border after getting prior notification that the export or import papers have been processed.

By end of day yesterday trucks entering or leaving the country were being cleared expeditiously.

Asycuda is a more efficient and advanced system for customs data processing since it is Internet based.

The system allows that any clearing agent registered with Zimra can lodge a bill of entry from anywhere in the world where there is Internet connectivity. Communication between Zimra and the agent is, therefore, done electronically. Source: Customs Today

Zimbabwe temporarily shut down its border with South Africa in Beitbridge yesterday after a Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) warehouse caught fire. Impounded goods worth millions of dollars went up in flames in the inferno. The blaze exposed Beitbridge’s lack of fire preparedness with officials having to ask South Africa to help. Beitbridge town has no fire engines. To view Video of Customs Warehouse on fire in Beitbridge – click here!

Second Southern African border post inferno in a week.

The fire started shortly after 5PM and caused a power outage at the busy border post, Zimbabwe’s gateway to its biggest trade partner, South Africa. The warehouse was used to keep smuggled goods such as television sets, electrical gadgets, blankets and groceries whose customs duty value was estimated at just over $1 million by the spokesperson for the Beitbridge Civil Protection Unit, Talent Munda.

Munda said the cause of the fire was yet to be established although it was suspected that it could have been caused by an electrical fault.

“The fire destroyed property worth $5 million and the cause is not known for now. When the incident occurred, there was no-one inside and it was locked. Most of the goods that went up in smoke were smuggled goods and those impounded by Zimra and nothing was recovered as everything was burnt to ashes,” said Munda.

Stanbreck Horita, a Harare truck driver who witnessed the incident, said the blaze resulted in border authorities temporarily suspending movement of travellers.

“I had parked my truck at the Zimra yard waiting for my vehicle to be cleared when fire started and everyone was scurrying for cover as the raging fire started spreading. It destroyed the entire building,” said Horita.

Another witness, Dumisani Mudau, a clearing agent, said: “I was busy processing papers for my clients when I heard people raising alarm and the next thing everyone was rushing to the scene where there was a huge fire at the Zimra warehouse. The fire was spreading fast such that even when fire fighters arrived at the scene they could not contain it.”

Buses carrying travellers who were bound for either South Africa or Zimbabwe were delayed as a result of the fire. Beitbridge town secretary Loud Ramakgapola said they had to collaborate with the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (NOCZIM) who sent their fire trucks to the border post.

“We tried to send our tenders to the border post but unfortunately our fire fighters could not contain the fire because it was too strong. The other problem is that there are no fire hydrants at the border making it difficult to deal with such disasters,” said Ramakgapola.

Fire fighters from South Africa’s Musina Fire Station arrived shortly and teamed up with their local counterparts in trying to put out the fire to no avail. Ramakgapola said Beitbridge had no fire station and the local authority relied heavily on Musina Municipality (South Africa) in the event of similar disasters.

“Beitbridge is a very busy border post which handles a huge influx of travellers especially as we approach the festive season. We therefore need a proper fire station in Beitbridge so that we’re able to deal with such situations. This is wake up call and we need to look into that issue as a matter of urgency,” said Ramakgapola.

Beitbridge border post is the busiest inland port of entry in sub-Saharan Africa, handling an average of 10,000 travellers daily and the number doubles during peak periods such as the festive season. Source: southafricalatestnews.co.za

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zim-rsaZimbabwe needs to further develop transport and trade infrastructure links with South Africa to maintain Africa’s biggest economy as its single most important trading partner, recent research findings have shown.

This came from preliminary findings of a research study carried out by Dr Medicine Masiiwa who was commissioned by the Ministry of Regional Integration and International Co-operation to undertake the study on trade and transport. The World Bank funded the study to assess the need to facilitate transport and trade in Zimbabwe. The findings form part of preliminary desk research ahead of a more detailed second phase.

Dr Masiiwa presented the initial findings from the desk research to stakeholders at a workshop in Harare. Preliminary findings of the study show that since economic and political stability, key for trade competitiveness of Zimbabwe is now in place, the country’s trade was bound for significant growth, making a trade and transport facilitation measure critical to support this growth.

“A major implication of having South Africa as Zimbabwe’s single most significant trading partner is that the transport and trade infrastructure between the two countries should be further developed,” he said.

Development options include expanding the current border post to accommodate more traffic or to construct a new border post altogether. Sound transport and trade infrastructure between Zimbabwe and South Africa is critical as more than 34 percent of local imports go to South Africa while Zimbabwe imports more than 60 percent of basic commodities from that country.

But the state of the main trunk road, on the Zimbabwe side, has remained in poor state despite also being the main link between the north and south. Increased trade with China implies that Zimbabwe, in collaboration with its regional partners, needs to further develop the Beira and Limpopo transport corridors, which link Zimbabwe with the ports on the east coast.

“It is also interesting to note that trade with the EU and other Western countries is on the rebound; meaning transport corridors linking western gateways also need to be further developed,” said Dr Masiiwa.

The major problem facing Zimbabwe is that the quality of infrastructure is deteriorating and therefore acting as an impediment to trade. A study by the World Bank showed that in the 1990s, the proportion of primary roads in “good” condition was about 90 percent, but this dropped to 85 percent in 2009. Roads with the worst conditions are secondary roads, where about 45 per cent of paved and 50 percent of the unpaved secondary roads are in poor condition. Source: Zimbabwe Herald

Tobacco in South Africa

February 16, 2013 — Leave a comment

smoke-cigaretteCigarette volume sales increase in 2011 – Retail volume sales grew by 1% in 2011, following declines throughout the review period. Retail value sales grew significantly due to a general price increase to cater for taxation increases, as well as rising production costs for manufacturers.

Porous borders continue to influence the growth of illicit cigarette sales – Volume sales of illicit cigarettes continued to grow during 2011, despite efforts by the police and tobacco industry stakeholders to combat illicit trade. Porous borders have been identified as the key factor behind the rise in the amount of illegal cigarettes being smuggled into the country. The Beitbridge border post between South Africa and Zimbabwe was identified as the main point of entry for illicit cigarettes from Zimbabwe.

High import duties restrict the growth of the cigars category – The performance of the cigars category remains suppressed due to high import duties on all cigars. The unit price on most cigars increased significantly in 2011 to accommodate import duty increases. Local distributors were reluctant to import new cigar brands due to a low turnover for existing brands. Consumption of cigars declined in 2011 due to higher unit prices for leading brands, with only festive seasons seeing some respite.

Consumers continue to favour buying tobacco products from supermarkets – The supermarkets channel remains the major point of access for most tobacco products in South Africa. Supermarkets tend to sell tobacco products at relatively low profit margins when contrasted with other channels, such as tobacco specialists. With the rising cost of living, smokers still prefer to use supermarkets to buy tobacco products due to the lower prices.

Retail volume sales expected to decline over the forecast period – Slower but relatively stable growth is expected for retail plus illicit volume sales over the forecast period, however retail sales alone are expected to decline. Category performance is expected to be restricted by legislative restrictions, such as a ban on the advertising of tobacco products in any way other than at points of sale. The Government of South Africa is also considering a total ban on the display of tobacco products at points of sale. Thus, retail volumes are expected to decline, while illicit sales will continue to rise during the forecast period.

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The Freight-Intra Africa Trade Conference in Pretoria, this week, has featured several news articles in the local media, and no doubt some foreign tabloids as well. The Minister of Transport has cleared up the cause of the ills plaguing cross border and regional transport. At least we are now fully informed that [historical] design issues and operational inefficiencies at South Africa’s landborders, and Beit Bridge in particular, are the fundamental causes of under-performance in intra-Africa trade.

“In most cases, the delays at the borders are caused by operational inefficiencies, which result in the duplication of processes. This is a serious cost to the economies of the countries that conduct their trade through such border posts,” the Minister said.

One has to seriously question who advises the minister which leads to such statements, and whether or not these advisers have visited any land borders in recent months.

Now the remedy – Government has budgeted and approved R845-billion for infrastructure development over the medium-term, with a significant proportion, about R262-billion of this investment being earmarked for transport infrastructure and logistics projects. Can anyone question government’s commitment in this respect? Not really. However, the Minister was quick to point out government would resolve inefficiencies at the borders by establishing a mechanism that will bring all border entities under a single command and control structure to address the fragmentation in border operations. “The ultimate vision is to create one-stop border operations to facilitate legitimate trade and travel across the borders”.

The proliferation of border management agencies (integration of enforcement and regulatory authorities under one umbrella) – which has seen the demise of many customs administrations over the last decade – has not proven an effective vehicle to manage cross border travel and trade. It is difficult to see how facilitation procedures can co-exist under a command and control environment. What the situation does create is the opportunity to consolidate a budget for security expenditure. Various Sources: Engineering News, Business Live, Fin24.com and personal opinion.