Customs clearing agents a headache at Buitepos

Buitepos: The activities of private customs clearing agents at the Trans-Kalahari border have raised questions, mainly due to their location on these premises.

About 20 different customs clearing agencies have set up shop at the very entrance of the Namibian border post for many years, which has resulted in people accessing them first before reaching Ministry of Finance customs officials.

Deputy Minister of Finance, Natangwe Ithete, was amongst those who raised concerns on the location of these clearing agents, noting that the current status quo may lead to an increase in smuggling of goods into the country.

Ithete told Nampa in an interview here on Saturday that because these agents are placed at the very entrance of traffic into the country from Botswana, some people may approach them first with their goods before declaring such goods with the ministry’s customs officials as prescribed by applicable laws.

‘This is very worrisome. Someone who wants to smuggle goods into the country could simply offload the goods at these agents first, before going to our officials for declaration. They should not be at a point where they could be acssesed first by visitors to Namibia.

‘It will be wise and better for all concerned if they were housed or located at a place where they could only be acssesed after a person has had time to declare their goods with us,’ he said.

Ithete described the location of the clearing agents as being in ‘no-man’s land’, as a visitor to Namibia would have had accessed to them before he could have his passport stamped.

‘When a person leaves the Botswana border, their passports are stamped as having departed from the country. But before being declared to have arrived in Namibia by means of a stamp on the passport, this person may already engage in business here with these agents without us knowing,’ said Ithete.

The deputy minister said plans are afoot to relocate the clearing agents to a more suitable place near the border.

‘These are Namibians like us who are making a living for themselves, so we do not want to deprive them off that. All we want is a more structured manner of doing business,’ he noted.