The Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA) has completed the rollout of its automated system at all the country’s five commercial border posts.
LRA Public Relations Officer, Pheello Mphana, told the Sunday Express that the system, called ASYCUDA World (AW), was introduced at Caledon border and Moshoeshoe I International Airport (MIIA) yesterday, whilst operations at Van Rooyen’s Gate and Qacha’s Nek border were initiated last month.
ASYCUDA is short for Automated System for Customs Data and is a computerised customs management system. AW is used to control the movement of goods in and out of Lesotho, and this includes calculating and collecting duty. ASYCUDA World provides a robust, comprehensive, declaration processing capability which uses the European SAD (Single Administrative Declaration) as the standard declaration form.
Mr Mphana said: “We have five commercial border gates which are Caledon in Butha-Buthe, Maputsoe, Maseru, Van Rooyen’s in Mafeteng and Qacha’s Nek. Last month, on the 20th, we introduced the system at Van Rooyen’s and Qacha’s Nek and on Saturday, we introduce it at Caledon and MIIA. This means every commercial border has now been automated, and we have replaced any manual declarations that used to take place at those clearing points.”
The LRA launched ASYCUDA World as part of its Customs Modernization Programme which sought to reduce the waiting period for cross-border traders by way of offering self-services such as clearing goods before reaching the border.
The project has also enabled the authority to conduct non-intrusive methods of goods inspection. This involves a mobile-inspecting vehicle which uses an X-ray to identify goods at the border while scans would be used at the airport to inspect merchandise electronically.
The project was piloted for one year in Maputsoe before its introduction at Maseru border last December.
Mr Mphana has advised traders to always declare their goods in advance before reaching the border to avoid unnecessary delays.
“We hope by now, traders are aware they need to declare their goods before reaching the border in order to save time. They could either make use of clearing agents or accessing clearing documents online at least 24 hours before proceeding to the border to avoid unnecessary delays.
“It is upon sending a declaration in advance that a trader would know if they are to proceed to the border or whether their consignment is due to be searched.
“We have continued to have awareness campaigns that have helped enlighten traders.”