By Taonga Sabola:
Authorities at the Indian Ocean port of Beira have said the port is intact and functional in the aftermath of Cyclone Idai.
Cornelder Mozambique Managing Director, Jan de Vries, told importers and exporters in Blantyre on Friday that, though the cyclone affected some operations at the port, the facility had bounced back to business.
De Vries said Beira offers the shortest distance to the sea for Malawian importers and exporters.
“We are here to assure our Malawian clients that, though Idai had a devastating effect on Mozambique, the port is functional.
“Of course, there are some inconveniences, like staff sharing offices, but operations are back to normal,” De Vries said.
Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) Director of Business Environment and Advocacy, Madalitso Kazembe, said Beira Port was critical to Malawi’s trade.
Kazembe raised a number of concerns that local importers and exporters have regarding Beira Port.
“Seals of some Malawi an export containers get broken at Zobwe without proper procedures being followed in terms of replacement by Mozambique Customs officials and truck divers are asked to pay for the action of breaking the seals. There is need that, whenever containers are opened, proper customs documentation should follow.
“There is also concern on delayed escort for sensitive products: It takes long hours to assign officers to escort sensitive goods in transit,” Kazembe said.
She added that even passengers transiting to South Africa pay money for processing of passports.
“You should avoid introduction of new charges like what happened when they were introduced on chemical and explosives consignments. i.e a fee of $300 per truck for hazardous goods, including fertiliser transiting through Mozambique, was introduced.
“Transporters are subjected to high toll gate fees and penalties. For example, up to $400 to reach Beira, thus making local transport uncompetitive as these charges are transferred to clients,” Kazembe said.
She added that there was discrimination when it comes to clearance of goods in favour of Mozambican transporters.
“It would take two days to clear goods for Mozambican transporters and up to two weeks to have a release order for goods carried by Malawian transporters. This affects local transporters,” Kazembe said.