“Significant gaps” in UK’s Brexit border preparations urgently need mending, says haulage sector

“Significant gaps” in the UK’s Brexit border preparations have led to haulage bosses to call for an urgent and essential meeting with the cabinet ministers.

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove reportedly received eight letters from different logistics organisations, stating that the UK-EU supply chain “will be severely disrupted” if these gaps stay unresolved by the end of the Brexit transition period.

The templated letter stated that “As key participants in the supply chain who will be required to deliver a functional operating border for GB and EU traders next year, we have visibility of the current state of preparedness which, as it stands, has significant gaps.”

Issues with IT systems and physical border infrastructure are the foremost causes of concern. Although, there is grave concern over the deadline for testing the Smart Freight system, which is one of eight vital IT systems that hauliers will need to transport goods between the UK and Europe next January.

European policy manager for Smart Freight, Sarah Laouadi, revealed that mass testing of this system is not feasible until late October or even November.

She said this is “far too late for the thousands of companies and tens of thousands of people who build our complex supply chains to redesign their processes and contractual relations before the transition period ends.

“Even if the software is ready by the end of the year, the government’s plans ignore the users’ perspective – our members will need time to learn the new system, adopt it and help to iron out any potential issues in the system.”

Without allowing time to plan and bring in these essential systems, the sector is “being set up to fail at the start of the New Year.”

Richard Burnett, the Road Haulage Association chief executive, stated that “the Smart Freight app and other untried and untested IT systems, to the lack of customs agents, and clear processes for tackling the mountain of red tape traders will face”, need addressing.

The Government replied, “The border operating model sets out in significant detail the approach to UK border controls after the transition period.

“We worked closely with industry in its development and will continue to do so as we move towards the end of the transition period.”

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