Power interruption at one of the busiest and
largest, by volume, clearing houses for imported
items in the country, the Addis Abeba Commercial
Commodities Facilitation Branch Office of the
Ethiopian Revenues and Customs Agency (ERCA)
disrupted service for three days last week.
The Office stopped work starting Saturday, October
1, 2011 after power transmission was lost and the
generator failed as well.
“The generator has parts that are not working due to
the constant power interruptions,” Fasil Tadesse,
general manager of the office, told Fortune.
The Office had spent around 180,000Br for
maintenance of the generator this year, four times
more than what has been approved for it, claims
This was due to the concentration of factories in
the area claims EEPCo. The Clearing House is located
around Kality on Debre Zeit Road, where many
industrial complexes are located.
There are around 40 transformers in the area due to
the high demand from the factories, which makes
maintenance difficult when there is power
interruption, according to an official at the
corporation, who is not authorised to comment.
However, clients claim the service delays they have
been encountering are more than just power
interruption; that the automated system for customs
data (ASCUDA) was faulty as well.
“Even when power is available in between, their
system fails to function,” Melaku Tekele, a
transitor whose client’s have had five containers
full of commercial goods stuck in Djibouti port for
six days. “We cannot transport it into the country
if it is not cleared at the Office. If the problem
is not solved and we get the clearance in two days,
we will be forced to pay demurrage,” he told
But that is also due to the power outages, claims
“It is not because the software is faulty, but due
to the time it takes for the software to start up
after each outage,” he told Fortune. “We have to go
through the whole process of booting it up.”
To avert the problem on a permanent basis, the
Office has requested the distribution system of the
corporation to provide it with another electric line
to be used as backup, according to a letter signed
by the general manager and sent to Distribution
Systems Process of the Corporation on August 13,
However, there has not been any concrete response
from the corporation, according to Fasil, and so the
The port of Djibouti charges 4,076 Br per six-metre
per container and 5.65 dollars the first day the
container stays at the port after an eight-day grace
period. The amount increases by two dollars for
everyday it stays on the port after that.
“This will increase the price of goods as the
trader will transfer this cost to the goods that are
imported,” Melaku told Fortune.
It is not only the customers that are worried about
the cost of the delay and interruption in service.
Customs duty is one of the major contributors of the
revenues ERCA collects. Last year, custom duty from
imports of 3.9 billion tonnes contributed almost
half of the 50.7 billion Br the tax authority
The Authority has planned to collect 79 billion Br,
out of which 22 billion is expected from customs,
according to the target plan of the Authority for
this fiscal year.
“In order to achieve the target, the office at
Kality is tasked to collect around 78 million Br on
a daily basis.” Fasil told Fortune. “Since the
office runs important transaction, including big
government projects, the cooperation should prepare
a stand by technical team.”