Trucker protest expected in Miami

| 10/29/2003

Hundreds of truckers were planning to protest in Miami against new U.S. customs procedures that stand to delay cargo clearance and cut truckers' income, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported.

Trucks carrying "in-bond" cargo between airport, seaport and other select sites now take up to 12 hours to clear customs because of the new procedures, the paper reported.

That means truckers paid by the load who used to handle up to seven deliveries a day now make fewer trips and less money.

At issue are new procedures that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's customs unit implemented Oct. 20 that scrutinize and expand paperwork requirements for "in-bond" cargo. That freight is imported but is duty-free, because it's en route for export or because companies will hold it temporarily at special "bonded" warehouses.

Customs said it was tightening paperwork requirements in the wake of the September 11,2001, terrorist attacks. The government earlier gave a 60-day notice of the changes, acknowledging they could be "potentially disruptive."

The protests come just days after the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce released a study showing that post-September 11 security measures are hurting business in South Florida, a hub for trade between the Americas, Europe and Asia.

Truckers have protested in Miami before. They slowed cargo movements at the port of Miami to a trickle for two weeks in February 2000, seeking increases in stagnant hauling fees, shorter waiting times, better working conditions and a drop in truck insurance fees.