Reasons for Delay in Courier Packages: 150K Items to Clear for Christmas, Transit Sheds too Small

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By Prior Beharry

PRIVATE transit sheds clearing 150,000 packages for the Christmas season have limited space.

This is one of the reasons why skybox courier companies are having a backlog in clearing goods.

This was revealed by Finance Minister Colm Imbert in the Senate on Tuesday. He was responding to an Urgent Question by Opposition Senator Wade Mark. The question: “Given extended delays in clearing goods at the ports due to staff shortages and operational changes, what measures are being taken by the Customs and Excise Division to allow citizens to clear their goods in time for Christmas?”

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Imbert said, “The private Transit sheds have limited space to accommodate examination. I was just talking to the Comptroller of Customs, who informed me that the issue is with air┬ácargo, not general air cargo nor there is an issue with sea cargo.

“The issue is with what we call courier cargo where the couriers will accumulate packages at a station, perhaps in Miami and then send a shipment in.┬áThese packages are then cleared a transit sheds which have limited space.

“We also have a recurring problem where the couriers do not provide advanced information on their consignments but not withstanding, all of that.”

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He said the working hours at transit sheds have been extended to 11 pm with additional customs officers being deployed.

Imbert said the Custom and Excise Division have deployed officers who would normally work in the baggage hall at the airport transit sheds.

Mark asked for a timeframe so that “ordinary people” could have their goods for Christmas.

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Imbert said, “We are talking about 150, 000 packages expected during this month, perhaps more. In November, there were 167,000 packages. And we have particular problems with transit sheds. One transit shed was closed down because it’s security systems were totally non-functional and unknown person’s broke in, tampered with packages and removed items which we suspect are illegal items, such as guns and ammunition, that is one transit shed.

“And I am told that that transit shed was not even aware that people had broken in and stolen things from their packages because their security systems were not working. (At) another one, the Customs was tracking packages of interest identified by international law enforcement to contain legal weapons. And those packages disappeared from that transit shed.

“They still cannot be found, that we shut down as well. You see, you never hear these things because it is not appropriate to make complete public statements on these matters for reasons of security, but I thought it’s necessary to say these things. One one hand can’t clap. The government is doing the best it can, but the couriers do not wish to provide advance package information and the security systems are not of the best, so we are trying our best but understand you’re dealing with 150,000 packages some of which could contain arms and ammunition.”

Independent Senator Anthony Viera asked if there will be an increase in transit sheds.

Imbert replied, “In the case of those two transit sheds, it has taken a very long time for the owners to achieve compliance.

“We’re talking about CCTV camera systems not working. We are talking about people entering a transit shed, a bonded warehouse as it will, and removing items. We’re talking about packages that have disappeared and owners of the transit shed cannot locate them up to now. We’re talking three months later, they can’t locate the packages and these are packages of interest to international enforcement, the solution to all of this, all of this dissolution is the Trinidad and Tobago Revenue Authority. That is the solution and it is ironic that the opposition opposes the revenue Authority bitterly but wants improvements inefficiency at customs.”

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