The taskforce on the control of importation of edible oils has called on all stakeholders in the country to uphold the law that bars the importation of these products so as to help the sector thrive and contribute to the Gross Domestic Product of the country.
This call came when the taskforce took a tour of the Chirundu border post to ascertain why there is still an influx of refined and packaged cooking oil coming into the country.
Department of Agribusiness Acting Principle Economist Matongo Munsanje, who is also Team leader of the Taskforce said the tour was necessitated by the fact that the Ministry has in the past two months not issued any permit for refined oils but the commodity has continued to come into the country.
Mr Munsanje said this shows that there could be something wrong or any other challenges that the stakeholders are facing at the point of entry.
Stakeholders at the Chirundu border have complained that the new system at the Zambia Revenue Authority, which is e – commerce has secluded them from the ASYCUDA programme where they have no access as they are unable to know what goods are coming into the country.
Environmental Health Officer at the Port of Health Point Kabeela Kagula said Zambia Revenue Authority(ZRA) takes the lead in processing import permits of commodities and the department is mostly unaware of the products that are passing through the border.
Mrs Kagula said in the past customs officers were trained on how to handle goods and those that needed clearance from various sectors would be directed for clearance to their respective offices.
She said some goods are cleared as far as Beit bridge and will just pass through the border without inspection from the relevant authorities.
She lamented that this problem has been observed since 2010 when the ASYCUDA system under ZRA was introduced which has not included the other stakeholders leaving the control of goods coming into the country to ZRA alone.
The Bureau of Standards officer Gerald said the same and called for ZRA to incorporate them in the system so as to help curb this vice.
Meanwhile, ZRA Customs Officer Joshua Phiri said there was also need for them to be trained and have machinery that could detect what was crude oil or edible oil so as to put a stop to it.
Mr Phiri said samples can be taken to Lusaka and back does not support that they keep a tanker of oil marooned at the courts because it was considered dangerous to the people.
He said if this can be done then quick intervention can be accorded and importers either fined or commodities disposed of according to what the act stipulates.