MRA publishes border time release study findings

Findings of a Time Release Study (TRS) conducted at Songwe Border Station in April 2019 have just been published by the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA).

The study team at Songwe Border

MRA publicist Steven Kapoloma said the main objective of the study was to find out the average time taken for the clearance of goods from the time of entry into the Customs area to the time of exit from the Customs area.

He said TRS is a tool designed by the World Customs Organisation (WCO) to aid tax administration in identifying bottlenecks and improving performance in clearance processes at the border.

Commissioner General for the tax collector, Tom Gray Malata said the study findings are crucial to MRA operations.

“This is the first time that the Authority has independently conducted such a study without any technical assistance. The findings from the study will assist MRA to further improve trade facilitation and operations at border stations, thereby creating a conducive environment for doing business. The Authority will be conducting regular time release studies,” he said.

“I commend the valuable contributions to the Time Release Study from the TRS National Working Group, the Implementation Task Force Team, WCO and the Joint Border Committee at Songwe, who provided timely advice and assistance to the study.  The cooperation demonstrates our common resolve to improve border services and facilitates legitimate trade,” said Malata.

The study findings are as follows:

                           Overall Avg. Release Times             Avg. Release Time for Customs Procedure
Imports              15 hours 58 minutes                           9 hours 5 minutes
Transit.               1 day 1 hour 34 minutes                     49 minutes
Exports               5 hours 35 minutes                            23 minutes

The study indicates that key factors affecting time taken to release goods at Songwe Border Station were inadequate infrastructure, shortage of staff and resources, absence of an electronic single window and language barriers.

As means to improve trade facilitation, the study recommends improvement of infrastructure by fast tracking the establishment of One Stop Border Post and implementation of an electronic single window respectively. It also recommends for beefing up staff as well as improve risk profiling of goods so that only those are of high risk should be examined.

The previous TRS was conducted with technical assistance from the WCO in 2017 at Dedza, Mwanza and Mchinji border stations. Then, the WCO involved MRA personnel who acquired relevant skills that have enabled the Authority to independently conduct this recent study.

The task force team for the recent study comprised 6 members led by Deputy Commissioner Customs and Excise Enforcement Department, Patrick Kachingwe.

Others were Balness Sumani, Deputy Station Manager, Mwanza Border Station, Mercy Sam Njolomole, Manager Research and Statistics, Policy Planning and Research Division, Chitsanzo Thindwa, Team Leader Enforcement Department, Trevor Zinyemba, Senior Programmer – Information and Communications Technology Division and Oscar Patson Kamanga, Management Information System Officer – Information and Communications Technology Division.

This team was supported by the Joint Border Committee (JBC) at Songwe, which consists of MRA staff, and other Government Agencies at the border like the Police, Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services, Clearing Agents including surrounding communities. JBC’s exist in all MRA border stations.

The Time Release Full Study Report can be downloaded from the Malawi Revenue Authority website:

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2 years ago

It should work the other way around! For each hour over the projected time, MRA should release us MK 1000 from the fees!

2 years ago

Good start but also explore why people need the extra 5 thousand kwacha to have release time reduced. without this money, you are there for ages

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