THE volume of imported second hand vehicles passing through Chirundu border post has significantly declined in recent months amid concerns over high duty charged and some related costs.
The high cost of importation particularly Zimra duty calculations and revaluation of the cost of the vehicle have seen cars piling up at Zimra yard at Chirundu post as people fail to raise the amounts required. Recent survey at Beitbridge and other borders also revealed that duty for smaller second hand vehicles was increased by up to $400 with those importing-state-of the-art vehicles forking out more.
When The Herald visited the border post at the weekend, about 80 cars were parked in the yard as a result of failure by owners to pay the increased duty demanded by Zimra. Chirundu border post had become popular with vehicle importers owing to relatively low duty costs compared to other posts such as Beitbridge.
Sources at the post said vehicle imports could have declined by as much as 60 percent in the last six months.
“We have seen a drastic drop in the number of cars passing through this (Chirundu) border post compared to previous months,” said a source who preferred anonymity for fear of victimisation. “It is very difficult to tell the reasons for the decline, but it seems people are being put off by the costs especially Zimra calculations where someone pays more than 100 percent of the value they bought a vehicle from Japan.”
A motorist who had just gone through the clearance formalities bemoaned Zimra charges, which make the vehicles expensive. “I have been here previously and there were queues of people wanting to clear their vehicle. The situation is different now because in the two hours that I have been here there were only two people wanting to be cleared,” he said. He brought a Mercedes Benz E320 from Japan for $3 600, but it was revalued to $4 600 after factoring in port charges that Zimra recently included for duty calculations. Zimra placed the market value of the vehicle at between $4 000 and $5 000. Duty was calculated from $5 100. “Zimra is killing the goose that lays the golden egg by charging high fees on duty.
They are discouraging people from importing cars but Zimra should have found a way of taxing downstream like parking and tollgates,” said motorist Kuda Jenya. Duty is being calculated at 86 percent for vehicles with an engine capacity of more than 1 500cc. However, motorists contend that it was more than 120 percent. Others argue it could now be cheaper to buy from locals and only pay 5 percent change of ownership fees. Efforts to get a comment from Zimra station manager Mrs Chrysostamo Kanjorane, were fruitless as he referred all questions to the Zimra head office in Harare.