Zimra busts fuel transit scam

BUSINESS REPORTER

The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) has intercepted three transit fuel trucks in Chirundu for allegedly smuggling fuel into the country under the guise of transporting it to Zambia prejudicing Zimbabwe of potential revenues, Business Times can report.

Zimra spokesperson Francis Chimanda said during the period July 17 to 23 July, three tankers that had declared fuel at Forbes Border Post en route to Zambia were intercepted at Chirundu One Stop Border Post loaded with water instead of fuel as per the declarations made at Forbes Border Post.

The tankers had declared 44 924 litres of diesel, 39 932 litres of diesel and 45 800 litres of petrol respectively destined for Zambia. After physical inspection, it was discovered that the tankers were transporting water.

“The three fuel tankers were flagged for physical inspection and with the assistance of police, two drivers were arrested and have already appeared in court. The driver of the third tanker is still at large as he disappeared during the physical inspection of the vehicle. The Authority is currently capacitating the intelligence management unit and will continue leveraging on technology and data matching to fish out fuel smugglers” Chimanda said.

The arrested drivers for the two fuel tankers, Godfrey Nyamukondiwa and Joseph Guveya, who appeared in court on Monday and were granted bail worth ZWL$30,000.

The duo will return to court on August 24. The bond for the Clearing Agent involved has been recommended for suspension until the duty due for the fuel has been secured, Chimanda said.

“Intelligence at hand points to possible connivance between transporters and their drivers as well as some unscrupulous agents. The transit fuel does not exit Zimbabwe and is consumed locally against customs regulations. The smugglers off-load and sell the fuel in Zimbabwe,” he said.

“Thereafter they load the trucks with water and proceed to Chirundu for the acquittal process. Once acquitted, they enter Zambia where they drain the water and buy cheaper fuel for delivery to their customers. This ensures that they make a hefty profit in Zimbabwe since they would have brought the fuel into Zimbabwe duty-free.”

Transit shipment of fuel occurs when transporters ship fuel from outside Zimbabwe, which passes through the country destined for another country. Since this fuel is not for local consumption, no duty is paid on importation.

The fuel trucks are sealed at the port of entry and the seals are removed at the exit point after the acquittal process.

Sealed fuel trucks that transit through Zimbabwe, are monitored by an Electronic Cargo Tracking System operated by Zimra’s Customs and Excise Division.

The trucks use dedicated routes and any departure from these routes attracts a fine of US$2 000.00. Removal of seals is a serious offence, which also attracts a hefty fine, Chimanda said.

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