Two trucks laden with maize which was about to be smuggled into Malawi have been abandoned at Mutenguleni graveyard in Kasenengwa District in Eastern Province.
The trucks have been abandoned in what appears to have been an attempt by the smugglers to dodge the security anti-smuggling drag net in the night.
ZANIS reports that the Zambia National Service officers in Chipata District found the two trucks that were laden with about 700 X 50 kilogram bags of maize in the graveyard following a chase of nine trucks that were carrying the grain.
Government has put a blanket ban on the movement of maize and all maize products during the night to curb smuggling that has become rampant in towns that share border lines with neighboring countries.
And on Monday night during routine anti-smuggling patrols, the ZNS officers pursued nine trucks that were using village roads leading into neighboring Malawi.
It seems the two truck drivers diverted their vehicles into the grave yard after being tipped by villagers that they were being trailed by ZNS officers.
ZNS Land Development Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Kahembi disclosed that the drivers swept off the trails left by tyres leading to the graveyard in an attempt to cover their tracks.
Lt Col Kahembi said the two truck drivers left the vehicles locked and ran away, forcing officers to guard the vehicles overnight.
He said the two trucks that have since been tolled to the ZNS warehouse in Chipata had about 700 by 50kg bags of maize, bringing the total number of bags impounded between the September 15 and September 21, 2020 to 1,700.
He said a total of nine trucks, two small cars, fourteen bicycles and three motorbikes were used in the failed smuggling attempts.
“We carried out operations around Mugubudu area, Mwami border and Chadiza road, and this is where we intercepted all these people,” he said.
He warned that government will not tolerate the continued activities of smuggling adding that some people have continued using vehicles that have been intercepted before.
“We have banned all the border areas, starting from Vubwi, and I would like to warn perpetrators of this illegal activity that they will not have it easy,” he warned.
The ZNS has continued to intercept vehicles attempting to smuggle maize into neighboring countries, especially Malawi.
And Lt Col Kahembi has warned that officers will target all smugglers regardless of what means they use to transport the commodity.
Meanwhile, a resident of Nchaba village which is the closest area to the said graveyard expressed displeasure at the use of the site by smugglers to hide the two trucks.
Abraham Luwo said the graveyard is sacred and should be respected by all citizens by not using it for illegal activities.
“No one is happy with what happened here. It is wrong that these men drove to the graveyard in the night and parked their trucks there in an effort to run away from law enforcers,” he said.
Meanwhile, the owner of the maize on the two trucks found in the graveyard Chisomo Jere has denied that the maize was not destined for smuggling.
Mr Chisomo said the maize was destined to Chipata where he alleged to have arranged to sell to a named private buyer.
“I told the drivers to park the vehicles at my sister’s place in the next village since it was late. So, they parked the trucks here and went to my sister’s house to bath. After they heard that ZNS officers were here, they decided to stay away. But I led them here in the morning,” he said.