COPPERBELT Minister Bowman Lusambo has bemoaned the rampant smuggling of mealie- meal into neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Mr Lusambo who toured the Kasumbalesa border post on Friday noted that the extent of mealie-mealie smuggling taking place through the border post could create an artificial shortage.
Mr Lusambo said President Edgar Lungu was concerned with the continued smuggling of mealie-meal to neighbouring countries as the artificial shortage created causes the increase in the price of the commodity.
The Minister who was in the company of Provincial Permanent Secretary Howard Sikwela and other senior government officials arrived at Kasumbalesa around 23:00 hours and went straight to inspect the border post.
Mr Lusambo took time to query police officers manning the border over the rampant increase in smuggling of the essential commodity to DRC.
He was briefed that in collaboration with officers from the Zambia National Service, they have managed to seal the border although the smugglers have now resorted to using other clandestine routes to smuggle mealie meal out of Chililabombwe.
Shortly after visiting some of the routes used by the smugglers, the Minister and his entourage were attacked by the suspected perpetrators who threw various objects at the moving motorcade.
Speaking after the spot checks, Mr Lusambo promised that Government would beef up security in the border town to help curb the vice.
“As Government we are concerned and we will conduct more operations through the Zambia Police. I know these people were tipped of this operation. We will go back to the drawing board to ensure that we deploy more officers as we have noticed that there are a lot of roots used,” he said.
Mr Lusambo said wants to bring sanity to the Copperbelt by tackling various issues among them the illegal smuggling of mealie meal to the neighbouring DRC.
He said that the country was losing millions of Kwacha in smuggled mealie meal to neighbouring countries, a trend which should be stopped.
He further warned Zambian transporters and traders aiding the illegal export of mealie meal to the DRC that the law would soon catch up with them.
He added that Government had not opened up the maize export market and all those found smuggling the community would be arrested.
The operation ended at 02 hours on Saturday with Mr Lusambo promising that he would return to the border town to check if the measures employed would be successful.