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Plans put up to ‘get out of jail’ on ICS as delays grow

<p>Integrated Cargo System user representative Paul Zalai said Customs clearances of import cargoes had begun to improve, "but not nearly fast enough" to deal with backlog of cargo building up. </p> <p>A Customs spokeswoman said 4,000 containers had been cleared over the crucial weekend period at different ports, but only 600 were actually moved out of terminals and depots. </p> <p>Patrick Stevedores told customers this morning (Monday, October 24) that ships may be delayed from tomorrow in Melbourne, and in Port Botany by Wednesday, the same day that Customs minister Chris Ellison is due to review last week’s decision to carry on with the ICS.</p> <p>The stevedore said only a handful of cleared boxes were collected at the weekend, with 1,800 boxes in Sydney and 1,600 in Melbourne awaiting immediate collection, even as the terminals have been forced to receive boxes directly into bonded off-dock sites. </p> <p>Mr Zalai said a new proposal was put to Customs yesterday (Sunday, October 24) to try and speed up cargo releases.</p> <p>An interim solution to "get out of jail" could be to split cargo reporting and import releases, with cargo reporters continuing to use the ICS with any import declarations which did not match a cargo report, then going on to Customs for an assessment for border security before release, he said. </p> <p>Mr Zalai said a similar system could be adopted in trying to reconcile Compile extension entries with the ICS.</p> <p>Import declarations were still struggling with software that was not fully functional &#8211 an over-complex cascade reporting system that relied on too many match-ups and incomplete diagnostics, he said. </p> <p>Users have suggested that if the cascade reporting were more visible, it would be easier to advise where the break in the cascade report had happened.</p> <p>Mr Zalai suggested that the next round of problems could be at LCL depots. Matching of ocean bill of loading data has already been difficult, even before the matching of house and co-loader bills is tried. Depot systems may also not be as strong as other players in the chain. </p> <p>Patrick’s latest customer notice said it was disappointed at the "completely inappropriate response" by importers and consignees in not collecting containers. </p> <p>Both Patrick and P&#38O Ports, along with Shipping Australia, gave strong support for Customs to continue with the ICS operation. </p> <p>However, Patrick today said its "overall situation had not improved to the extent that we had hoped". </p> <p>Hugh McMaster, of the New South Wales Road Transport Association, said he "understands Patrick’s frustration with the lack of response". </p> <p>Many truckers had operated on Saturday, he said. </p> <p>However, there was concern over the viability of collecting containers at the weekend when there is nowhere to deliver them, with vehicles having to stage overnight and then not being available at the terminals on Monday morning.</p> <br />