SADC launches Durban-Blantyre transit project

The introduction of the Durban-Blantyre Transit Project on February 1, 2007 was held two weeks ago at a three day SADC Heads of Customs meeting in Malawi.

The new system means that countries such as Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and South Africa will have a single customs document which will just be stamped at the borders unlike previously where traders had to use different customs forms at different border posts.

The system will reduce time spent on the borders which will in turn drastically reduce the transit time of goods from the current three days.

The project will run a pilot phase for three months up to the end of April after which it will be reviewed to check effectiveness.

Malawi Revenue Authority deputy commissioner Ralph Kamoto said that the project would eliminate all bottlenecks faced by cross border traders.

Kamoto said that the Durban-Blantyre Transit project would provide a smooth trading environment while SADC gears for the introduction of a free trade area by 2008 and a single customs union by 2010.

“The introduction of the new system will mean that countries like Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and South Africa will have a single customs document which will just be stamped in the borders unlike in the present situation where traders fill in different forms at different border posts,” Kamoto said.

“We believe the system will help to reduce time spend on the border which will in turn drastically reduce the transit time of goods from the current three days.”

The project would run on a pilot phase for three months after which its effectiveness would come under review.

SADC customs and trade facilitation adviser Happias Kuzvinzwa said the introduction of a SADC customs union by 2010 would present a great challenge to member states and therefore the need to start making preparations.

The Road Transport Operators Association (RTOA executive director Shadreck Matsimbe said that the Durban-Blantyre Transit project will make road haulers more efficient as they will be transporting goods within a short period.

“This should help us to do a lot of work within a short time unlike in the past when we had to delay on the borders,” Matsimbe said.

February 2007
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