Malawi Customs in fire-fighting mode at Songwe border

Customs and Excise department has panicked to avert more chaos at the stand-off happening at Songwe border crossing in Karonga.

Songwe Border

The department has received backing from its mother body the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) whose commissioner general Thomas Malata has issued different statements bringing forth new ways of clearing goods at Songwe in a space of 48 hours.

The border crossing has for the past three months experiencing conflict between clearing agents, customs officials and importers. The agents complained about corrupt practices by officials but what followed were arrests of a group of nine agents and an importer leaving the mentioned corrupt officials.

But Malata has veiled the changes around coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, sugar-coating them to shield the chaos brought by customs officials at the border in Songwe.

“MRA is informing importers, exporters and the business community that they can pre-clear their goods though the Pre-Clearance Facility to avoid congestion at the border. Pre-Clearance is a facility that allows importers and exporters to submit declarations and supporting documents to Customs for processing before the arrival of goods at the border,” says Malata.

He says the Authority would therefore like to encourage importers and exporters to use the Pre-Clearance Facility as one way of avoiding congestion at the border and observing social distance following the outbreak of Covid-19.

“MRA would therefore like to assure importers, exporters, the business community and the public that it is committed to expedite the clearance of imports and exports at the border beyond the Covid-19 pandemic. Stay safe. Observe social distance,” concludes Malata in the first statement.

He however pushes out a complete change of customs procedures in another directive within 48 hours by ordering that cars must not be cleared at Songwe border.

The agents arrested at the border crossing are accused of faking invoices to pay less taxes andduties.

“MRA is informing the business community, the public and importers that it will start clearing used motor vehicles at its Customs Inland Ports in Blantyre, Lilongwe and Mzuzu. The Authority will be clearing the used motor vehicles on a 60-day pilot phase starting with used motor vehicles imported through Songwe Border Station,” Malata says.

All imported used motor vehicles are cleared at the border but Malata avoids to mention the chaos there by sugar-coating the major change saying, “The clearing of the used motor vehicles at inland ports will allow importers to properly plan for their businesses”.

People using the Songwe border crossing are also complaining that they are denied an entitled personal travellers’ allowance of not paying tax for imported goods valued up to K300,000.

The allowance is called personal rebate and it is an entitlement to every Malawian that has been out of the country for more than 24 hours.

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2 years ago

Mr. Malata all you are doing is shifting the problem. Unless you now have priests working at the inland ports. However, great campaign practice, hence the mention of 60 days , thereafter back to square 1. Cry my beloved Malawi.

Ideal Citizen
2 years ago

The writer is trying to explain a story he really knows nothing more especially the policy of allowing vehicles to be cleared inland. The writer wanted Songwe border to remain fully congested as a result of space depletion by the abandoned used vehicles, thereby rendering trucks that bring in essential goods like fuels impassable. Instead of accusing those importers who just dump their cars at the border thereby causing unnecessary space challenges, he is now targeting Malata who is bringing facilitation news of easing the congestion at the border by allowing those interested to have their vehicles cleared inland. After… Read more »

Kondwani Chisale
Kondwani Chisale
2 years ago

We Malawians do encourage corrupt practises our selves in all the Govt Dept and Specially MRA and Govt Ministries are all Corrupt as our Leaders are also Corrupt

We’re are MCP and UTM getting there Funding for Elections is it NOT from Corrupt Money

Dr. Godfrey Mvuma
Dr. Godfrey Mvuma
2 years ago

Mr. Malata, this is our downfall of our Good governance in Malawi. Letting Corrupt officials scot free. Please Investigate, if proven corrupt, then Heads must role. Without getting to the bottom of this, you, yourself is insuating that you condon corruption, and by virtue and accountability, hence this implicates you to be corrupt. I am just advising you to be decisive and Zero tolerance to corruption at whatever level. In Tumbuka they wisely say: “Kauzyanga ni Fwiti yayi, Fwiti ni Tilinganenge”. Take my advice.

Zawo izo
2 years ago

Za alomwe izi. Tidzazitsata dziko likadzakhala la a Malawi.

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