The Ethiopian Customs Commission has suspended 15 courier operators for failing to operate under a legally authorized warehouse to process such imports, The Reporter has learnt.
The mandatory requirement for customs clearance necessitates parcels, goods, and other shipments, to be inspected and taxed at a designated warehouse.
The suspension has affected the likes of UPS, FedEx, Aramex, Marathon Express, and more. According to some operators, it has been two weeks since there operations were suspended in Ethiopia.
Currently, DHL and the Ethiopian Postal Service (EMS) are the only operators in the country. Both have set-up shops at the new passengers’ terminal facilities, ever since they managed to setup warehousing facilities, earlier.
The suspension came after the passengers’ terminal expansion project commenced at the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport, which saw the demolition of an existing warehouse used by all the courier operators.
Regularly, either the Ethiopian Airlines or its affiliate, the Ethiopian Airports Enterprise provide the warehouses, so that courier companies can smoothly clear packages and deliver to intended clients.
The customs law mandates a temporary or a bonded warehouse, to facilitate and clear goods imported into the country. Required to leave the facility, courier operators went to the cargo clearing facility, where both the Customs Commission and the couriers found it difficult to have orderly operations.
Considering the challenges, the Customs Commission has eased its rigid procedures to allow the delivery of critical packages, mostly medicines and vital documents, related to international bids and procurements. However, many have complained of the disadvantages, failing to cover overhead costs. To arrive at marginal profits, on average, they must deliver some 800 kilograms of goods, packages, spare parts, machinery, and the like, per one shipment.
The suspended operations, resulting in diminishing activities coupled with the imposed 45 kilos of goods for one shipment by the Airlines, have made it difficult to cover costs.
Mulugeta Beyene, Deputy Commissioner of Customs, told The Reporter that the suspension took effect when the couriers failed to operate in an authorized warehouse facility. They have declined to set-up a legally accountable body, to ease the customs clearance requirements. Mulugeta said that such measures were only taken after several verbal and written warnings were given, prompting the commission to suspend their operations.
One of the reasons given was that if such facilities are used it might lead to harboring the shipments of illicit goods. However, some countered saying they were in the process of establishing a firm to assume the task of handling such shipment, until the suspension order came in effect. Now, some of the hard-pressed small couriers are considering laying-off employees to survive in the business.