Consumer staples concern, TSL Limited, has lodged an application with the country’s tax collector to run a dry port which would facilitate smooth trade within the region and decongest the borders especially Beitbridge, Business Times can reveal.
The proposed venture to be run by its unit, Bak Logistic, comes as the group reported in its 2020 annual report that it was exploring opportunities to expand its operations “locally and regionally; organically and through strategic acquisitions”.
Zimra spokesperson Francis Chimanda said the organisation was precluded by the Revenue Authority Act to disclose client information to third parties referring further questions to Bak Logistics.
No comment could be obtained from Bak or its parent TSL.
The dry port is an inland intermodal terminal directly connected by road or rail to a seaport, operating as a centre for the transshipment of sea cargo to inland destinations.
Chimanda said the overall economic benefits of the dry port include enhancement of trade facilitation, increased revenue collections and reduction in border delays or clearance turnaround times.
It would also lead to reduction in border congestion, reduction in economic operators, reduction in cross border trade costs and alignment of processes and procedures with international best practices, he said.
Chimanda said the dry port would result in effective and efficient deployment of resources, enhanced supply chain security, improved trader compliance, increased transparency and integrity, as well increased investment within the dry ports themselves and in other related downstream industries and economic activities.
Industry executives told Business Times that Bak Logistics wants to set up a Dry Port in Harare. Bak Logistics runs a Transit Shed in Mbudzi area and a Container Depot in the Willowvale area. This will be an upgrade from these facilities to a fully-fledged Dry Port, insiders said.
Under Statutory Instrument 55 of 2020, the government gazetted four dry ports to be located in Mutare, Masvingo, Bulawayo and Makuti. They are currently running as government projects and there are no legal provisions for the establishment of dry ports other than those already gazetted.
Industry executives said the Dry Port would minimise the impact of the Kazungula Bridge project in that cargo would be expedited for example Beitbridge and Forbes Ports of entries as documents and Zimra transit clearances are done at the Dry Port in Harare while the cargo is transiting Zimbabwe.
“This will be a potential game changer in terms of forex revenue from transit trucks as volumes will significantly improve due to better turnaround times,” the expert said.
In its 2020 annual report, TSL said tobacco handling volumes were 9% behind prior year due to the later start of the tobacco selling season and delays in tobacco processing.
It said the distribution division recorded significant growth in volumes as new customers were secured.
Volumes in the ports business decreased by more than half due to “generally slower movement of both imports and exports owing to the Covid-19 pandemic” .
In the outlook, TSL said it would continue to position itself to take advantage of the opportunities for growth in pursuit of the “moving agriculture” strategy.
“We will continue to invest in our people, upgrading our infrastructure, invest in our manufacturing plants, market presence, developing our technology platforms and leveraging on our local and international partnerships,” the consumer staples concern said.