SIXTEEN more trucks laden with Food Reserve Agency (FRA) maize destined for Mozambique and Malawi have been intercepted in Nyimba and Chipata districts in Eastern Province.
And a truckload of 1,200 bags of mealie-meal hidden inside 70 bags of maize destined for Kasumbalesa border has been seized in Ndola.
Eastern Province Permanent Secretary Chanda Kasolo said at a Press briefing yesterday that 14 trucks carrying more than 600 bags of FRA maize were intercepted in Nyimba, while Zambia National Service (ZNS) officers stopped two trucks loaded with maize in Chipata.
Mr Kasolo said 11 trucks destined for Mozambique were impounded in Nyimba on Thursday while the other three were intercepted yesterday.
“The DC for Nyimba Colonel Peter Kunda Kaisa has just told me that 11 trucks were impounded on Thursday and today (yesterday) three more trucks that were on their way to Mozambique have been impounded.
“In Chipata, ZNS intercepted two trucks loaded with maize on their way to Malawi. The DC for Chipata Mr Kalunga Zulu rushed to the scene to see what was happening,” Mr Kasolo said.
He said the 14 trucks seized in Nyimba were believed to belong to Zambians while the two trucks intercepted by ZNS had foreign number plates.
He commended ZNS for showing vigilance after receiving instructions from President Edgar Lungu that they should be checking on smuggling of maize at exit points.
And Patriotic Front (PF) officials in Ndola helped in the interception of a truck carrying 1,200 bags of mealie-meal on the pretext that the truck had maize.
PF Black Delta chairperson Robert Kapakala said the truck was intercepted after a tip-off that it was carrying mealie-meal and not maize and that the commodity was destined for Kasumbalesa.
Mr Kapakala said it was surprising that people could take mealie-meal to the Copperbelt when it had enough millers.
It was discovered that the truck had three brands of mealie-meal despite papers showing that it was carrying maize.
“We were prompted to take action and have been on the ground to monitor the situation. Government has sent warnings for people to desist from smuggling mealie-meal.
“These truck drivers have been offloading the commodity in Chililabombwe and smuggling it through Kasumbalesa,” he said.
When contacted for a comment, Copperbelt commissioner of police Charity Katanga said she was aware of the matter but had not received a report from her officers by Press time.
Copperbelt Minister Mwenya Musenge said there was no shortage of mealie-meal on the Copperbelt contrary to claims by United Party for National Development provincial chairperson Elisha Matambo.
Addressing journalists after checks in various retail outlets, Mr Musenge said that the commodity was readily available in Ndola and that there was no shortage as was reported in some sections of the media.
“Let us not play politics of misleading people. You cannot win elections by telling lies. Politics in the country have evolved and people want to see honest leaders. When things are difficult we will go to the people and tell them we have a challenge.
“There is a lot of mealie-meal and there are no queues, some of the queues are instigated. There is no shortage of mealie-meal on the Copperbelt and milling companies are working day and night to ensure that the commodity is available,” Mr Musenge said.