Windhoek –Zambian authorities are detaining 70 drivers and have impounded 200 Namibian trucks that were carrying timber from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The trucks have been impounded for about five months and this has so far cost the trucks owners about R100 million, according to the Namibian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI), which is demanding the immediate release of the trucks.

The trucks were impounded because Zambian laws prohibits the harvesting of Mukula timber in the country.

The Mukula timber in the Namibian trucks was, however, harvested by businesses operating in the DRC with valid permits from the government of the DRC to do so.

The Namibian truckers were simply transporting goods from the suppliers to the clients and were never involved in the harvesting of the timber.

The trucks carried timber from the DRC with valid documentations which were inspected by Zambian customs officials and found to be valid and authentic.

The Zambian authorities even sealed the cargo at the Kasumbalesa border post between DRC and Zambia which under normal circumstances would be inspected again at the Sesheke-Katima Mulilo border post.

The Zambian authorities agreed that the drivers had valid and authentic documents at the border and that the trucks were carrying goods legally, but the same authorities still impounded trucks.

At the time of transporting the timber, Zambia had only banned the harvesting of the Mukula timber on their territory, but not the transportation if that timber came from a different country.

The trucks drivers’ situation has, however, been made difficult by the fact that Zambia, as of April 2017, passed a law that no timber is allowed to be transported in the country.

NCCI chief executive officer Tarah Shaanika said as a result of the impounding, the drivers have been living in deplorable and inhumane conditions in Zambia for the past five months, far away from their families.

“Their trucks have been stationary in Zambia without generating income and some of our members are at risk of losing their businesses all together,” he said.
NCCI said they have engaged the Namibian and Zambian authorities several times but to no avail.

This situation is likely to affect the relations between the two countries as well as result in a setback for regional integration as promoted by SADC.

The three countries have a corridor (Walvis Bay–Ndola–Lubumbashi corridor) developed to promote trade within the region and with the outside world. A lot of efforts were made to promote this transport corridor.

The corridor was signed into agreement by the three governments in 2010 and this enable it to increase the movements of goods along the corridor.
Shaanika said people must not forget that it’s Zambia and DRC who use this corridor more, compared to Namibia.

“Unfortunately, there were also more goods destined for Zambia and DRC from the Port of Walvis Bay in comparison with goods from Zambia and DRC to Namibia or to the outside world via the port of Walvis Bay.”

He added that one of the products identified to be transported as a return load from the DRC to the port of Walvis Bay was timber and the main market destination was China.

A number of trucks from various countries, primarily Namibia, Zambia, DRC, Tanzania and South Africa started taking timber from the DRC as a return load.

Shaanika said it was unfortunate and regrettable that the Zambian authorities decided to impound trucks for such a long time instead of impounding the products which they were trying to protect.

He added that the impounding of the trucks had harmed the Namibian economy severely, at a time the country’s economy was not doing well.

“There is clear evidence of the impact of the impounding of our trucks on the transport and logistics sector in Namibia. There is currently a lot of cargo that cannot be transported out of the port of Walvis Bay due to lack of trucks because so many of them are kept standing in Zambia.”

Zambian High Commissioner to Namibia Stella Libongani, could not be reached for comment.

But speaking to the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation yesterday, deputy commissioner Dorothy Nachilongo said this does not signify a political fight between the two countries and a solution would be found soon.

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22 COMMENTS

    • What’s Zambia’s side of the story? The article does not say, thus making Zambian authorities appear unprofess1onal. Why are they holding on to these Namibian trucks if the timber was not harvested in Zambia? It doesn’t make any sense at all. The Zambian authorities owe Namibians and the Zambians an explanation. They need to explain the new law and the sequence of how these events unfolded. Zambia has already p1ssed off South Africa, and now it’s Namibia. Are we going to have any friends left in the region at the pace these PF leaders are alienating our neighbors? Shame on them.

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    • They used our copper to develop their countries now they are stealing our timber and they want Zambia to turn into a desert. Don’t release the trucks just sell all them.

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  1. Forgive the delinquent Zambian government. The ediots are arrogant and have no clue on international relations, yet they are running around the world with a begging bowl.

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  2. Knee jerk decisions. Meanwhile the politicians are exporting mukula sealed in fuel tankers

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  3. Pathetic operations in zed. If the documents are their then the government wants corruption. Someone went to Nakonde to look at Mukula tree in the name of inspecting development projects. Tufyako!

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  4. If it’s illegal to transport mukula tree in Zambia, then don’t do it even if it’s been harvested in the DRC. If the trucks where used to perpetuate this crime in Zambia, they too can’t just be released – this is common sense. Follow the laws of the land, simple. The Walvis Bay–Ndola–Lubumbashi corridor is used for transportation of legalized goods, so it’s pointless to threaten that there are a lot of Zambian goods in that corridor so long the good are legal. This seems to be more of a complaint, I beg they rather engage the Zambian gvt diplomatically than cry out in the public like this.

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    • read carefully,the govt banned the transportation of mukula tree on zambian roads in 2017,those trucks have been marroned for the past 5,months.why cant the owners of these timber seek court review,its a simple case.

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  5. Tanzanians are complaining over the same. Who is Zambia not to resolve this diplomatically. It is said that these trucks on their return from DRC loaded with mukula logs its when they found that SI banning transiting of the said good in zambia was in force. So its like this SI was not circulated in SADC countries before bringing it into force. So their complaint is genuine. Let’s not forget that we are a landlocked country. Again why is Malawi closing its boarders against zambia?.

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  6. Zambia is rubbish these days, I can’t support such nonsense those timbers are on transit from DRC to Namibia no need to impound them for such long time. Get sense u authorities of Zambia rubbish

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  7. They have to use the different route or country because the product is Illigal in Zambia. It is like transporting rhino horns from Congo to Namibia and passing through Zambia. You can’t go through mweembbwa.

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  8. Zambian authorities are a problem and don’t understand diplomatic relations, Zambia has banned export of mukula tree but congo hasn’t. so people are buying mukula tree from congo and exporting to china via Namibia or south Africa…what the Zambians were supposed to do is let the countries who are selling mukula do there thing , it doesn’t mean if you don’t want to trade in mukula then congo shouldn’t. this thing will back fire and remember zed is landlocked so you need these countries with ports. grow some Faken ballz and do the right thing.

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  9. There are also trucks for Zambians marooned in DRC with the same mukula tree. The GRZ should have taken stock of vehicles in the DRC and given a window for these to transit through before effecting the SI. This is really unfair for the Zambian transporters with trucks in the DRC. Please great this window then effect the ban

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  10. The Current Cop In Zambian Govt Is Useless And Does Not Understand Diplomatic Relations.
    Busy Saying Ati If Funds Are Available We Will Construct A Rail To Link Walvis Bay From Copperbelt Via N/Western And Western Provinces. Namibia Govt Mukavikanile Vima galu Vachabechabe Ivi.
    And Make The Transportation Of Markerel To Zambia Illegal As Well. They Forget That Zambia Is A Landlocked Country And Needs Ports Like Walvis Bay To Be Connected To The Sea.
    Anyway The Biggest Loser In These Deals Is A Poor Villager In Shang’ombo. The Gap Better The Rich And Poor Still Gets Bigger And Bigger.
    I Rest My Case

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  11. The Current Cop Of Zambian Govt Is Useless And Does Not Understand Diplomatic Relations.
    Busy Saying Ati If Funds Are Available We Will Construct A Rail To Link Walvis Bay From Copperbelt Via N/Western And Western Provinces. Namibia Govt Mukavikanile Vima galu Vachabechabe Ivi.
    And Make The Transportation Of Markerel To Zambia Illegal As Well. They Forget That Zambia Is A Landlocked Country And Needs Ports Like Walvis Bay To Be Connected To The Sea.
    Anyway The Biggest Loser In These Deals Is A Poor Villager In Shang’ombo. The Gap Better The Rich And Poor Still Gets Bigger And Bigger.
    I Rest My Case

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  12. Zambia’s authorities investigation findings must be cited in this report to get an entire picture… This whole thing smells of a scam….

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  13. I think people in Zambia dont understand a single law. Is Mukula tree bunned by any resolution supported by UN, AU or SADC? Common sense. The main reasons Zambia bunned mukula, we here there are politicians who are involved in timber trade.

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  14. A motor vehicle of more than 7 years is not allowed to be imported in Namibia if it is outside SADC. Most of cars purchased by Zambia from Europe has to pass via Namibia. Namibian authorities never stopped these cars passing through.

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  15. By the way Zambia is busy importing used cars from japan using the port of Dar es saalam..momre than 200 Tanzanian trucks are marrooned at Kasumbalesa border post from Congo Dr .waiting to transit through Zambia with Mukula tree.What if Tanzania also Ban imports into Zambia such as used cars and other products to transit through Tanzania.How will Zambia be affected?

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  16. well its unfair to impound trucks for such a long period of time. can the two governments engage diplomatically and resolve the impasse.

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