Source: Handy Shipping guide, 2020-09-16
The government has claimed that a misunderstanding of terms is what led to an attack from Logistics UK regarding the readiness of the new Customs system designed to smooth the way for trucks shipping goods, particularly to the Channel ports, after Brexit.
After the recent letter to Michael Gove asking for a meeting between government and the major logistics related UK lobby groups came a statement that the SmartFreight system, designed to ensure no vehicle arrives at a port with incorrect documentation, thus slowing the process and causing backlogs, would only be available in beta format by December.
When Logistics UK took this to mean that the system would only be in test format, probably until April 2021, this prompted Elizabeth de Jong, Director of Policy, to comment:
“News that the government’s much anticipated SmartFreight system is unlikely to be ready by the end of the year, with the beta version only anticipated for launch in mid-December, is a crushing disappointment for the logistics sector, which will be charged with maintaining the flow of goods across the UK’s borders after the end of the Transition Period on 31 December 2020.
”Logistics UK, which has offered maximum support for the government during its development and testing of the system which will be vital to the continued movement of trade to and from the EU, expressed dismay at today’s revelation that the system will not be fully tested and stable until April 2021, far too late for the end of the EU transition period at midnight on New Year’s Eve.
“Businesses which will depend on the system to ensure the continued flow of goods and services to the EU were already working to very short deadlines if the SmartFreight system was to be tested and operational by the end of the year. To find out, with only 14 weeks to go, that there will not be a ready, workable solution for those moving goods to the EU is a massive blow to UK businesses and the economy.
”The government needs to understand the complexity of the UK’s highly interconnected logistics industry and the amount of co-ordination required in order to use SmartFreight, and prioritise the allocation of more resource to deliver the system on time, to protect the UK’s supply chain. “
Now the government has unequivocally stated that the system, upon which it is relying to prevent delays, will be up and running by December, a pronouncement which will either be welcomed by the freight community, or possibly viewed somewhat doubtfully, given the administration’s track record on pushing ahead with Brexit so far.
So it seems the term ‘beta’, the second letter of the Greek alphabet and used in many different contexts, like home, means different things to different people. We shall shortly find out whose version is correct.