MMD demands clearance of trucks at Kasumbalesa border

By staff reporter

OPPOSITION MMD national deputy spokesperson Peter Phiri has expressed concern that the marooned trucks at Kasumbalesa border post in Chililabombwe destined for the DRC can cause human catastrophe if not resolved quickly.

However, Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) explained that the current long queues at the border post had no impact on revenue collection.

In a statement, Phiri observed that the continued traffic congestion being caused by trucks destined to the Democratic Republic of Congo was posing a hazard to residents on the Copperbelt Province because most of them were transporting flammable cargo.

“The continued delay to clear trucks entering the Democratic Republic of Congo, which has resulted in traffic congestion from Chililabombwe through Chingola to now Chambeshi districts, is worrying.  Some of these trucks being parked along the road near to residential areas are carrying flammable cargo such as petrol and sulphuric acids. And in an event that one of these trucks transporting flammable goods bursts, we are likely to have fatalities and lives would be lost,” Phiri stated. “It is for this reason that I am calling upon the Zambian government to address this matter urgently and ensure that these trucks that are posing a hazard to residents in the named districts are cleared before lives are lost. This is a time bomb that might explode any time.”

Phiri noted that the delayed clearance of DR Congo bound trucks was adversely affecting Zambia’s trade at Kasumbalesa.

“Kasumbalesa is one of the border posts where the Zambian government collects foreign exchange, which significantly contributes to the national economy. And by continuously having trucks marooned between Chililabombwe and Chambeshi the country’s trade volume is being compromised.  For once, as political leaders we should stop politicking and address the challenges affecting the citizens in our country. This matter should be addressed with the seriousness and urgency it deserves.”

Phiri proposed an appointment of a taskforce to address the issue and ensure that the clearance of trucks at Kasumbalesa border post was expeditiously conducted.

However, ZRA Corporate Communications Manager Topsy Sikalinda said the trucks going into DR Congo were mostly transit goods while others were local exports.

“Both scenarios do not attract any export taxes. Zambia does not have an export tax system except on timber and precious stones,” he explained.

Sikalinda added that there had been public concerns about loss of revenue when people/ the public see goods going out of Zambia into DRC as being smuggled or evading tax.

“It is important for the public to know that all trucks currently on the Zambian side in Kasumbalesa have already been cleared by the Zambia Revenue Authority,” he said.

“They are waiting for entry formalities into the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Zambian government has since engaged the Congolese authorities to deal with the matter”.

Sikalinda stated that so far, the Zambian authorities had extended border operating hours from 18:00hrs to 20:00hrs.

“The Authority has further suspended late clearance fees to encourage transporters to clear goods out of Zambia even after normal working hours. Starting Tuesday 9th April, 2019, the Zambian and Congolese authorities have agreed to start clearing at least 600 to 700 trucks every day into Congo from the current average of 420 per day. This is expected to help clear the traffic in the next 10 days or so,” he said.

He disclosed that congestion has been caused by various factors that include limited parking space, as only one lane is available for exiting into DR Congo due to construction works and the security situation, as most drivers fear for their safety.