Home » Industry » Car Importers Flood Chirundu

Chirundu Border Post is fast becoming the entry point of choice for vehicle importers. The one-stop-border post system has made it more convenient and worth using. At the border, all customs and immigration formalities for Zambia and Zimbabwe are carried under the same roof. The influx of imported ex-Japanese vehicles from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania via Chirundu has drawn people from across Zimbabwe to engage in various informal businesses at the border.

Others are just small time traders and clothing vendors who cross the border daily to get wares from Zambia for re-sale in Zimbabwe.

An average of 200 secondhand vehicles get through the Chirundu Border Post on a daily basis, making the one-stop facility a hive of activity attracting Zimbabweans from all walks of life.

Besides Government workers serving the various departments such the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority, Department of Immigration and security services, Chirundu has also attracted other service providers as activities increase.

Car parts dealers, drivers, clearing agents and vendors are all visible at the border. Despite the allure of the border, development has eluded Chirundu.

There has been little development, structurally and economically to support various activities at the border.

Even housing has failed to catch up with the increasing importance of Zimbabwe’s northern gateway to Africa.

Informal agents have found a chance to earn a living as “runners” who assist truckers clear their vehicles at the one-stop border. The state of the art office complex and the new bridge have brought a new look to the dusty port which today accommodates customs, immigration and security agents from both Zimbabwe and Zambia.

The opening of the giant complex has also had a domino effect on the Zimbabwean side of the border with other structures, including more shops and, of late, an office complex currently under construction to accommodate agents who use temporary structures as offices. The town still yearns for more buildings to accommodate the various businesses associated with travelling such as banks, supermarkets, garages and motor vehicle spare shops.

Importation of secondhand vehicles, especially ex-Japanese cars, started in 2008 after Government introduced the multi-currency system to counter hyper-inflationary conditions. The second-hand vehicles have become a welcome alternative for prospective car owners who can spend at least US$5 000 to import a vehicle into the country.

Zimra Legal and Corporate Services acting director Mr Tichaona Chiradza acknowledged the increase in traffic volumes at Chirundu with an average of 200 vehicles getting into Zimbabwe a week. Besides the new cars, Zimra also clears an average of between 300-350 commercial trucks per day going either way at the Chirundu One Stop Border Post.

“In addition, the authority clears not less than 40 incoming imported private motor vehicles per day on a busy day. Together with already registered incoming Zimbabwean private motor vehicles, about 120 cars are cleared at the border post.”

He said Zimra clears on average of 880 commercial vehicles per day, either incoming or outgoing, at Beitbridge Border Post while an average of 890 private vehicles are cleared per day at the border post. Government has, however, expressed misgivings on allowing the unregulated importation of second-hand vehicles.

Zimbabweans imported 206 519 cars worth over $606 million between January and November last year through all ports of road entry, according to statistics from the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency.

This translated to about $250 million in import duty accruing to the Government. Prospective car buyers identify their vehicles on the internet before the vehicle is shipped to Durban after the necessary transactions.

The process was quite popular as Zimbabweans can have their vehicles shipped to Durban within four to five weeks. People thronged Beitbridge offering services as runners and temporary drivers also known as kumaJapan.

However, South African authorities banned imported vehicles from their roads resulting in further transport costs of up to $700.

Imports through Beitbridge declined in September last year as focus shifted to the Dar es Salaam route which is cheaper and faster. Mr Jacob Chinosiyane who cleared his vehicle at Chirundu last weekend said the process is cheaper and less cumbersome.

“It takes about four weeks for the car to reach the shores of Tanzania from Japan and the expenses a re less compared to Beitbridge.”

One needs $280 to clear a car depending on the vehicle which is said to be and easier task than in Durban.

Zambian authorities charge around $80 for a road authority and carbon tax before acquittal at Chirundu. He believes the one-stop border system has been favourable to the importers.

“It takes less than an hour to get clearance from the Zimbabwean side.”

This involves clearance from the Zambian and Zimbabwean Interpol authorities then assessment by Zimra.

There is then the supervisor’s re-assessment before duty payment to get insurance and road access permits.

“When you have your customs clearance certificate you can then get temporary registration to enable one to use Zimbabwean roads.”

However, the holding bays at Chirundu have several accidents damaged vehicles as the road trip takes its toll on drivers and importers.

This has been attributed to an increase in the rate of accidents involving the imported vehicles along the more than 2 000 kilometres journey to from Dar es Salaam to Chirundu.

Mr Maxwell Matengambiri, a driving instructor in Chirundu blamed night driving for most of the accidents.

“Once you get your documents you are instructed to start and some drivers prefer travelling at night because of few police road blocks. The roads are also good and sometimes drivers reach 160kmhour speeds.

“People forget that the vehicles have had faults hence our inexperienced or unlicensed drivers fail to control them after tyre bursts.”

Feedback: sydney.kawadza@zimpapers.co.zwcydkaw700@gmail.com

Source : The Herald