Faster customs services at container depots
Faster, better customs services at container depots around the country are in the pipeline. The South African Revenue Service (SARS) launched its “customs modernisation journey” on September 17, with the aim of improving the speed and efficiency of physical inspections at depots.
The largest container depot in Durban, operated by South African Container Depots (SACD), is the first to be modernised. A number of staff will relocate from their current offices in the city centre to the depot.
A noteworthy announcement is that inspections will be carried out between 07:30 to 16:00 (they were previously done between 11:00 and 13:00).
In addition to the extra six-and-a-half hours of inspection time a day, customs staff will have access to the SARS service manager inspection system – enabling them to complete inspections and finalise reports on-site.
Centralising container inspections is another aspect of the project, aiming to improve turnaround times from an average of four days to 36 hours. All inspections will now be conducted within a 5 km radius of the depot, and a new booking process will be implemented. A customs team leader based at the site will liaise with depot employees every afternoon to finalise the following day’s available-inspection-time schedule. The team leader will then schedule inspections by sending a message to the clearing agent via the SARS system. Traders and agents will no longer be able to contact customs inspectors directly but must make use of this channel for inspection queries.
Access to the inspection area at the depot will be enforced more strictly. Agents may only enter the area if an inspection is scheduled and must wear reflector jackets and carry valid identification at all times.