Some relief may be on the way for thousands of people who have been experiencing delays with the clearing of cargo from the Express Consignment (courier bond) of the Piarco International Airport.
This comes as the Customs and Excise Division announced a change to their appointment system from Monday (July 26), with an increase in the amount of cargo to be cleared daily.
Since the start of the latest lockdown measures, one courier company told Guardian Media Limited, Customs had reduced appointments for clearing of items.
The companies were placed on an alternating system and allowed to clear packages every other day on a fixed schedule.
However, over the past three weeks, there have been additional delays, causing courier companies to send out notices to their customers advising them to expect their packages to take longer to be cleared.
In the letter sent by Customs to courier companies on Thursday, the division outlined the changes to the system, stating, “Effective Monday July 26, 2021, there will be an increase in the number of cargo reporters processed on a daily basis at the EC (Express Consignment) Area. This increase will be reflected in the daily appointment roster.”
The division said the responsibility to “degroup” shipments would be that of courier companies, who are also required to provide adequate staff for the clearing of goods.
“It is the responsibility of the Cargo Reporter to ensure that the consignments are transferred to the area designated for the processing of Express Consignments for the published appointments. Priority shall not be given where an appointment is missed due to the failure of the Cargo Reporter to degroup or transfer the consignments or any payment issues with the Carrier,” the letter stated.
The owner of one courier company said if this new system is implemented, it would bring relief to thousands of people who have been waiting for their packages to be cleared.
In an email sent to Guardian Media on Thursday, there were more complaints about the slow, inefficient system.
“Since the start of the second lockdown, customs has been working at an extra slow rate, arguably the slowest ever. I have been waiting for some goods to be cleared from customs up to 22 days…sometimes even longer,” one business owner said.
He said the slow process had become a major burden on small businesses and was very ‘inconsiderate.’
He attached a document showing the delivery of an online purchase to a courier company on June 30.
The item was shipped to Trinidad and Tobago on July 6 and arrived in the country on July 9.
On July 13, it was listed as “delayed in customs.”
On social media, consumers who have been waiting on their items to be cleared also vented their frustrations, with one posting, “If Jeff Bezos making it to SPACE and back in 11 mins, you could tell me what customs doing taking 11 business days to clear ppl (people) goods in Piarco?”
The comment was shared many times, with others agreeing and also expressing their frustration.
Another user said he had been waiting 14 days for his packages to be cleared.