Sun | Jul 21, 2019

Customs brokers upset about delays at port

Published:Friday | June 1, 2018 | 3:19 PM
Mitzie Gordon Burke-Green - File photo

The Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders Association of Jamaica is again expressing serious concern over what it says are severe delays at ports.

The association, in a statement today, contends that the continuous issues with the Jamaica Customs Agency’s ASYCUDA clearance system and additional challenges with the Trade Board and the Kingston Freeport Terminal limited are stymieing commercial operations and the businesses of clients.

According to association president Mitzie Gordon Burke-Green, the problems have been compounded in recent months, adding that the ASYCUDA system went down across the entire island today resulting in delays.

“Over the last three months we have been having regular downtime with ASYCUDA, and it takes a very long time for us to be able to log into the programme, and when the system freezes you lose all information on the customs declarations and have to start all over again. This is affecting the delivery of shipments to our customers,” Burke-Green said.

Regarding the Trade Board, she said the association is concerned about delays in obtaining import licences as well as delays in the pre-inspection of used motor-vehicles being imported.

Burke-Green said the association is also concerned about delays in the stripping of containers by kingston freeport.

Describing the issue unacceptable, she said the association is calling for a waiver of penal charges for the delays and the extension of operating hours to facilitate the clearance of the current backlog of containers on the port.

Here's the CBFFAJ Full Statement  

The Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders Association of Jamaica (CBFFAJ) has expressed serious concern over the continuing issues with the Jamaica Customs Agency’s ASYCUDA clearance system, and additional challenges with the Trade Board and the Kingston Freeport Terminal limited, which are stymieing their commercial operations and the businesses of their clients.

The President of the CBFFAJ, Mitzie Gordon Burke-Green points out that the problems have been compounded in recent months; with ASYCUDA being down across the entire island today, nothing is getting done. “Over the last three months we have been having regular downtime with ASYCUDA, and it takes a very long time for us to be able to log into the programme, and when the system freezes you lose all information on the customs declarations and have to start all over again; this is affecting the delivery of shipments to our customers”, she opined. Mrs. Burke-Green is holding the Jamaica Customs Agency to their promise to provide a ‘standalone system’ this month (June) to allow customs brokers to work offline so ASYCUDA downtime does not immediately impact customs brokers entry preparation.

“We are pleading with Customs to work assiduously to meet this June promised target in the interest of our many customers across the island, whose businesses are suffering from the inordinate delays from frequent system downtime”, noted the CBFFAJ President.

USED Vehicle Imports and the Trade Board

The CBFFAJ also points out that since the pre-inspection system for used motor-vehicles implemented by the Trade Board became mandatory in February, where, it is now required that inspections be done from the countries where the vehicles are being exported, mainly Japan, which is the largest used-vehicle exporter to Jamaica; the CBFFAJ is alarmed that it is taking over two months for pre-inspection results to be sent from Japan to the Trade Board, resulting in severe dislocations in their business. Import licence applications are taking a very long time to be processed. “Even though customs brokers are usually furnished with the original pre-inspection certificates obtained by their clients from dealers in Japan, the Trade Board will not accept these certificates from us, and so there is an un-ending delay in the importation process. This is bad for business”, noted Mrs. Gordon Burke-Green.

Kingston Freeport Terminal Ltd (KFTL) and the Stripping of Containers

The CBFFAJ also takes serious issue with the unacceptable delays in the stripping of containers by the Kingston Freeport Terminal Ltd (KFTL).

Given this, the CBFFAJ is calling on KFTL to waive the penal charges for the delays and to extend operating hours to facilitate the clearance of the current backlog of containers on the Port. “In some instances, it is taking as long as four days to clear a container. Our customers are very frustrated, especially our returning residents from the rural areas, who have to make multiple trips only to be disappointed by delay after delay. This cannot continue, we are demanding better customer service from KFTL!”, said the CBFFAJ President. “Delays and inefficiencies can lead to corruption. We find it necessary to make a public statement as we want our customers to understand the problems in the process, which are greatly affecting the excellent customer service they have come to expect from the membership of the CBFFAJ. We are afraid that if the current situations with various connecting systems, port, customs and trade board, are not fixed in short order, trade delays will spiral out of control, negatively impacting our doing business rating and our GDP. We apologise to our customers for these inefficiencies and wish to assure them that we are doing everything in our power to assist in finding quick solutions to the problems”, noted Mrs. Burke-Green.

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