Covid 19 effects on freight forwarders
In most cases, shipments of valuable products are being delayed due to logistical issues with most overseas offices closing down as part of precautionary measures to curtail the spread of the disease.
Transporters and importers of goods are also facing delays and incurring demurrage costs, with customs formalities reportedly taking longer especially at out of Europe, Asia (China) and Durban Ports which are some of the trade links for landlocked countries including in Sadc, including Zimbabwe.
The Herald understands that major imports that come into the country via South Africa include; motor vehicles, mining equipment, groceries, fuel, gas, raw materials, building materials. On the exports section, minerals, fresh fruits, tobacco, and other agricultural produce leave through Beitbridge Border Post.
According to the Shipping and Freight Forwarders Association of Zimbabwe (SFAAZ), chief executive, Mr. Joseph Musariri, the sector has started feeling the changes in the movement of cargo.
“Cargo is not moving from all the hot places and that affects business. Even those in clearing only will have felt the reduction of volumes of cargo which started setting in in January,” he said. “We have been liaising with our members at different ports, the situation is gradually affecting them, and imports from the disease’s hotspots are dwindling. “Generally, we are experiencing delays due to supply chain movement stop & test initiatives being implemented to manage the spreading of the disease.
“Actually it’s a mixed bag of fortunes and naturally our sector will be adversely affected from the projected slow down”.
Mr. Musariri also urged the customs and clearing agents/freight forwarders to follow safety precautions as constructed by cargo handlers such as container depot operators and transporters. He said not much cargo is being received from infected countries though but the recent spread of the disease in Europe will cause a big challenge and a possible drop in cargo coming from there.
The official said the organisation was in full support of the Government initiative to prevent the spread of the disease.
Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau
Freight Forwarders are one of the major players in facilitating international trade and enhancing the movement of commercial cargo in the supply chain, and these have started feeling the heat as the coronavirus (COVID-19) spreads globally.
“We are grateful that we do not have any confirmed case at the moment. Prevention is certainly better than cure,” said Mr. Musariri.’ He said since the beginning of the week some of their members have been having difficulties in getting shipping lines to amend typing mistakes on a Bill of Lading for out of Europe cargo.
“The overseas offices are closed and nobody is answering phones. Meanwhile, the containers will be sitting in Durban awaiting the Bill of Lading amendment.
“This then means the importer incurs storage costs, demurrage costs, high input costs and possible loss of business,” he said.
However, the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) says it is yet to record any change in pre-owned vehicle imports via Beitbridge Border Post. Most of these motor vehicles are being shipped from the United Kingdom, Japan, and Singapore.
Zimra’s Head of Corporate Communications, Mr. Francis Chimanda said; “A
total of 1,092 motor vehicles have been processed in the last two weeks. There has not been much change from the previous importation trends”.
He said they are processing import documents for an average of 55 cars daily, 400 weekly and 1,600 monthly.
Mr. Chimanda said 1,647 and 1,698 vehicle imports came in through Beitbridge in January and February respectively.