Courier services: Minister under pressure

Brian Chitemba
Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services Minister Webster Shamu has come under pressure to act against logistics companies charging unjustified fees for customs clearing.
This follows revelations that some courier service providers, including giants such as DHL Zimbabwe, are charging fees before releasing goods to recipients.

The fees are charged despite the fact that the parcels would have already been paid for by the sender.

When contacted for comment, Minister Shamu refused to discuss the matter, saying he could only do so at his office. Pressed further, he insisted he would be available after the holidays.

“I only discuss work-related issues in my office. I can’t give you a comment,” he said.

Prominent Harare lawyer Mr Terrence Hussein, nonetheless, said there was need for Government to craft a regulatory framework that ensures courier services only charge clearance fees in line with actual costs.

Mr Hussein, who was once caught by surprise as DHL demanded the clearance fee, added: “There is a misunderstanding on the issue of clearance fees because some people confuse it with duty. Zimra does not get that money.

“We need a regulatory framework so that people know the exact amount of these fees and what they cover.”

He also argued that Zimbabweans had the right to demand an explanation from DHL as to how the firm fixed its charge at US$50. He said the company would open itself to lawsuits if it failed to comply.

Another Harare lawyer, who preferred to remain anonymous, concurred, adding: “Mr Shamu must act to protect citizens from dishonest companies.”

“These companies are fleecing ordinary people so that they make profits. It is not clear how, for example, how DHL arrived at US$50 as clearance fees.

“Zimbabweans have the right to demand answers. If they refuse to give explanations, then they can be dragged to court,” said the lawyer.

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