Sun | Aug 20, 2017

Frustrated customs brokers say ASYCUDA system crippling operations at the port

Published:Friday | April 14, 2017 | 4:00 AMPaul Clarke
Andre Williams, chief information officer and project manager, ASYCUDA

Freight handlers and custom brokers say they are frustrated with the performance of the Automatic System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA) a year after its roll out, noting frequent breakdown is crippling operations and causing unwanted disruptions.

The latest breakdown occurred on Wednesday, resulting in more than four hours of work time lost, according to Marcia Bent, president of the Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders Association of Jamaica (CBFJA).

Andre Williams, chief information officer and project manager, ASYCUDA, said the system experienced down time but was back up, except for the payment portal, which should be back to normal by now.

“We want to make the distinction in that the system, while it experienced some down time, is back up. However, the payment portal is still out and we are working to get that sorted out as quickly as possible,” Williams said.

In the meantime, the CBFFAJ members say the system still terminates their transactions intermittently and has halted the processing and clearance of shipments on behalf of their clients.

HIGHLY FRUSTRATING 

“This is highly frustrating for our members two days before the long holiday weekend. It takes about 20 minutes to complete a standard transaction on the ASYCUDA but the system times out before the submission process can be completed. This is crippling our operations and causing a pile-up of our clients’ shipments,” Bent explained.

“Containers that should have left the ports today for return tomorrow have not left and therefore our customers will face demurrage and detention charges at some U$120.00 per day.”

Demurrage fee refers to the charges that the charterer pays to the ship owner for its extra use of the vessel.

Bent said that while the ASYCUDA processing and clearance system offers great benefits, the challenges in implementing the system continue to stymie and frustrate our work especially during the holiday period when demand is high.

“This cannot continue, it is not good for business and commerce in the country and a way must be found to resolve once and for all the kinks and capacity issues of the system," she insisted.

There was a similar cause for concern in December 2016, where accumulatively the system was down for almost two days during that busy time.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com