The Zambia Revenue Authority – ZRA Commissioner General Dingani Banda says the current situation at the Kasumbalesa Border Post is not conducive for efficient trade facilitation hence the need to resolve it urgently.
Speaking when he met the Democratic Republic of Congo – DRC General Directorate of Customs and Excise Mr Banda stated that the Authority will allocate more officers at the Border to help decongest the Border, and will work with officials from DRC to implement the resolutions of extended working hours on both sides.
“With the onset of the rains, the situation at the Border might result in an outbreak of diseases,” he mentioned
Mr Banda explained that it is important for the two Authorities to meet and check on the progress made on the resolution that were made when the Zambian and DRC officials met in June this year, with the objective to resolve the traffic congestion at Kasumbalesa Border on both sides of the border.
“On the Zambian side the rain season is not good for the trucks, as part of the trucks avoid those routes coming into Kasumbalesa, so, our strategy worked well in June after the meeting because the roads leading to Mukambo where still passable,” Mr Bnada said
And the Southern African Development Community – SADC Drivers Association President Eugene Ndhlovu has appealed to the Revenue Authorities to resolve the existing challenges as the current situation is posing health and security risks to the truck drivers.
“Most of the points have been made clear on how we can deal with the problem holistically, for us as an Association that looks into the welfare of truck drivers, we are very much concerned with what the drivers are going through in this long queue where there are no toilets, water, and security. Our prayer and wish is that as we seat in this manner, we discuss the long lasting solution,” Mr Ndhlovu said
He explained that the challenges towards Zambia’s Border with neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo-DRC had worsened barely two months after it was supposedly corrected by the two country’s governments which momentarily brought traffic flow to normal.
“This has prompted the SADC truck drivers association to write an open letter to President Hakainde Hichilema as well as call for a suspension on the clearance of trucks heading to the DRC in the interim, to reduce the number of trucks stuck on the Zambian side of the border,” he said
Mr Ndhlovu disclosed that most trucks stuck on the highway are in transit, already cleared at the point of entry into Zambia and are only waiting for acquittals to enter the DRC which has failed to implement fast track clearance while using Zambia as a truck park.
It is estimated that over 3,000 trucks are stuck on the Zambian side stretching 70 kilometers, it is alleged that the current situation was caused when truck drivers on the Zambian side went on strike for six days and the situation was later worsened when clearing agents on the DRC side went on strike for five days.
The Kasumbalesa Border is the busiest crossing point for trucks going into the DRC and neighbouring countries, and on average 500 cargo trucks pass through the Kasumbalesa Border each day.
In October this year, the situation at the Kasumbalesa Border worsened following the continued sit-in protest by truck drivers, the Zambian side at the no man’s land had been blocked with no trucks from Congo DRC not entering Zambia as it is the case with trucks going into DRC Congo.
The truck drivers at the Kasumbalesa Border had blocked the Congolese from walking into the Zambian side for purchasing anything or taking merchandise into Congo, this resulted in the Congolese nationals to start throwing stones at the Zambian side, a situation that made things go out of hand, as some shops where looted and the Zambia Police dispatched more man power to help curb the situation according to Copperbelt Province Police commanding officer Sharon Zulu.
Ms Zulu described the situation at the Kasumbalesa Border as hostile, adding that the Congolese started throwing stones at the Lorries for protesting drivers which blocked walk paths into the DRC, thus, preventing Congolese traders on foot and bicycles from crossing into the DRC with their merchandise.