Zimbabwe have gone on a buying spree of second-hand Japanese vehicles, leaving the Zimbabwe Revenue officers (Zimra) at Beitbridge overwhelmed.
Thousands of imported cars and their owners or shipping agents litter the special secure storage zones reserved for imported vehicles as their owners try to speed up processes and minimise the huge storage bills.
Sources at the border post said the vehicles have filled up all bays and even spilled into driveways while importers mill around the yard waiting for their names to be called.
In some cases, people have to wait for four days before securing all documentation for their cars.
Despite the increased load, Zimra has not beefed up staff and has even slowed down the printing of customs clearance certificates (CCCs) used during imported car registrations.
Yesterday, CCCs for Wednesday were being issued as vehicle carriers poured in more vehicles from South Africa.
The department, under pressure, has roped in members of the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) to control importers threatening to run over the Manica transit shed that is contracted to store ex Japanese vehicles pending import clearances.
The soldiers could be seen driving people to avoid crowding Zimra cubicles at the Manica shed.
Importers have accused operators of the transit sheds of taking advantage of a sudden upsurge in business to profiteer from handling fees that have been increased fivefold from US$10 to US$50.
Storage fees have been increased from US$10 to US$15 per day.
“We are being robbed. Customs are using parallel market rates because if you do not have USD50, they ask for $170 bond. This is supposed to be an extension of government service, but look at them,” Charles Moyo said as he waited to have his six cars cleared.
Scores of other people from across Zimbabwe went into a panic mode and bought many cars from ex-Japanese car dealers in South Africa when they became unsure of the fate of the bond notes.
A security official estimated that about 2 500 to 3 000 cars had been imported in the last three weeks.
Zimra spokesperson Taungana Ndoro had not responded to questions by the time of going to print last night.
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