Muchinga Province Minister Henry Sikwazwe has assured truck drivers and traders marooned in Nakonde with impounded maize that the Government will address their plight by Monday next week.
The Minister made the assurance yesterday when he took time off his schedule to inspect the water development project in Nakonde to listen to Zambian truck drivers and foreign traders who have been marooned at the Nakonde border for over two months.
Mr Sikazwe said officers from ZNS and other security wings are conducting a verification exercise to ensure that the maize is not for export purposes.
The Provincial Minister further stressed that after the verification process is done, truck drivers found abrogating the Presidential directive of banning the exportation of maize will be prosecuted.
However, the Minister appealed to the truck drivers to remain calm as officers are following the right procedure in dealing with their issue.
“If we find that your maize is really meant for the local market, then you will be released, but at the moment the delay is because they are conducting a verification process,” he added.
Over 25 Zambian and Tanzanian trucks laden with maize have been impounded in Nakonde and have been parked at a Dry Port in Nakonde since January 2023, on suspicion of exporting the product to neighbouring Tanzania and Kenya.
Cephas Nondo, one of the affected truck drivers, told Muchinga Minister Henry Sikazwe that the Zambia National Service (ZNS) has taken too long to clear their issues after their trucks were impounded following a ban on exporting maize by the Government recently.
Mr Nondo who expressed his displeasure when Muchinga Province Minister took time to check on the situation at the dry port at Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA) offices, lamented that the authorities at ZNS have not considered the healthy well-being of the truck drivers.
He stated that the truck drivers understand their offences, adding that it would have been better if they were updated on the way forward over their offences.
“Some of us have been here for over two months now and we have not been told anything on our issue. Here, there are no proper toilets and no bathrooms and this is a big health hazard to us,” he said.
Mr Nondo further called on Government to intervene in the truck drivers’ complaints by putting a human face to their issue.
And Desmond Shika, a Tanzanian truck driver, lamented that the owners of the maize bags have also stopped paying them while they have been impounded, stressing that it has been difficult for them to support their families for the past two months.
Mr Shika also mentioned that most of the trucks laden with maize bags are meant for the local market in Nakonde and not for export.
Some of the affected traders told the Minister that they bought maize from the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) as far as Southern Province and that they have papers for the consignment.
However, they complained that their maize was impounded because there was a delay to move the maize across Zambia into Tanzania.
About 28 trucks, some of them for Zambian transporters and others from Kenya and Tanzania are parked at the dry port in Nakonde over a maize export impasse.