Some Zambian Police officers and protesting truck drivers have been stoned by Congolese traders at Kasumbalesa Border near Chililabombwe in the Wednesday morning commotion.
Zambian truck drivers have been staging a protest for four days at Kasumbalesa Border over harassment and intimidation when in neighbouring DR. Congo.
The situation got worse on Wednesday morning as the parked trucks and their trailers blocked the walk paths Congolese use when coming to trade on the Zambian side.
Copperbelt Police Commanding Officer Sharon Zulu has confirmed that the situation at Kasumbalesa Border is hostile.
Ms Zulu has told journalists that the drivers have continued with their sit-in protest preventing Congolese traders on foot and bicycles from crossing into Zambia with their merchandise.
The Commissioner has assured the public that police are on the ground to monitor the situation and ensure that truck driver and their goods are safe.
Ms Zulu said Zambia police has dispatched more manpower to help curb the situation at Kasumbalesa Border.
“Security status in Kasumbalesa as at now is quite a bit hostile. In the sense that the drivers have continued their sit in protest whereby us as security we are just coming in to monitor what is happening and also making sure that their trucks are safe. There have been some challenges because trucks have gone as far as Riverside Checkpoint, going into Chingola.This situation is not safe in terms of security because any criminal will take advantage of the situation at night or during day time to steal goods that are in the trucks. We have been patrolling the area but again you are looking at a long stretch that requires to be patrolled 24/7 with the little resources we have, we are trying every means to make sure that those trucks parked by the road side are not tempered with,” Ms. Zulu said.
The Commissioner expressed shock that Congolese traders threw stones at Zambian Police officers.
“Coming to the happening at the border right now, we have a situation at hand whereby the Zambian side, no man’s land has also been blocked. Whereby trucks coming from DR Congo are not supposed to enter Zambia. As it is the case with trucks going into DR Congo. We also have an extra situation were now, the Zambian side truck drivers have gone to the extent of blocking foot paths that are being used those people who are trading through walking in using the footpaths.Drivers have decided to block those traders and at the end of the day the Congolese from the other side who are coming into our country (Zambia) to trade, those using wheelbarrows that you are seeing, are being blocked so even them they have retaliated by way of starting to throw stones to the drivers that have blocked the foot paths, a situation which is not supposed to be there but we are coming in as Police to make sure that the situation is controlled. Surprisingly, to the Congolese traders continued throwing stones even to the police,” she said.
Ms. Zulu revealed that Police Officers from Kamfinsa Unit in Kitwe have reinforced man power to preserve law and order at the border.
She said Police are in control of the situation at the Kasumbalesa Border.
“Like you are aware Kasumbalesa is a Police Post and the number of man power is that of a police post which cannot even quench 100 people if there are some protects. Chililabombwe is at hand to make sure that those traders stop throwing stones.As police we are not stopping those traders from crossing or walking into Zambia like they have been doing because there is no law that is guiding us to that effect but then the Zambian drivers are the ones saying they don’t want those traders to come into Zambia and start trading also. So this is the situation at hand we have a lot of man power that we have reinforced. We have Kamfinsa School of Public Administration and Maintenance, we have equally sent officers there to reinforce the man power at Kasumbalesa and also to make sure those that are throwing stones are stopped. At the end of the day all we need is peace and safety. As for the truck drivers continuation of sit in protest, the information is on the ground to everyone that drivers are on sit in protect. That is all I have for now but we are control of the situation. Our area of concern is security and making sure that no one is hurt especially after the issue of throwing stones started,” Ms. Zulu said.
Earlier this week, Copperbelt Minister Elisha Matambo appealed to the SADC truck drivers to resume operations following protests over alleged harassment in that DR Congo.
Mr. Matambo had met officials from DR. Congo to iron out challenges truck drivers encounter in Congo.
During the same meeting Haut-Katanga Deputy Governor Jean-Clause Kamfwa Kimimba assured Zambian Truck Drivers of their safety whenever in the DRC.
Many Zambian truck drivers have been killed in DR Congo. Other drivers complain of being fined unnecessarily and frequently by Police abs Soldiers in Congo.