HomeLocal NewsCovid-19 cripples freight industry

Covid-19 cripples freight industry

Rex Mphisa

THE Shipping and Freight Forwarding Agents of Zimbabwe (SFFAZ) has implored the government to facilitate smooth flow of goods across borders amid confusion over lockdown rules.

The industry is listed among essential services in the wake of a second wave of Covid-19 which has seen lockdown measures tightened.

Zimbabwe has recorded 700 deaths and over 10 000 confirmed cases.

Efforts by importers and exporters to engage relevant authorities have been futile.

Agents have bemoaned police harassment in the manner they are enforcing Covid-19 regulations.

SFFAZ president Joseph Musariri said they were facing myriad challenges in movement of goods.

“Our members’ core business is facilitation of movement of goods across the borders (imports and exports, including transit cargo),” Musariri said.

“Our members operate both from inland and border posts. We are part of essential services (globally).

“In view of the current lockdown, members face difficulties operating inland and at border posts due to staff movement restrictions and arrest by security agents for operating outside curfew hours.”

The association, he said, appealed to the Health and Child Care ministry to address the situation.

In a letter dated January 4, 2020, SFFAZ said: “We are very concerned with how the industry is being treated in spite of our critical responsibility in the movement of goods, movement of trucks and collection of government revenue.

“Our customs clearing members are expected to be present whenever the border posts are open. We continue to maintain our presence at our own risk.”

Police, who were recently deployed in Beitbridge, have been disregarding official identity cards used by shipping agents.

It is said the newly deployed police officers were not briefed on the special cases at the Beitbridge border post which has remained open to essential cargo under the reviewed lockdown.

“Any inconvenience caused to our clients is sincerely regretted. It is our hope that the situation will be under control soon,” Musariri said.

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