By BUUMBA CHIMBULU
THE Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) on Monday evening fought running battles with suspected smugglers at COMESA market in Lusaka after it intercepted a truck which was carrying smuggled alcohol.
The battle, which happened around 22:00 hours, involved firing of warning shots and throwing of stones.
The driver of the truck which was intercepted in Kafue upon passing the Chirunduborder disobeyed the officers by driving to COMESA market at a high speed instead of taking it to the Makeni Enforcement Centre for further inspections.
No officer was injured during the fracas.
ZRA activated a team to intercept the truck in Kafue when it noticed some discrepancies in documentation after it was cleared at the Chirundu border.
When the truck reached Makeni roundabout, instead of the truck turning, the driver decided to proceed into town with an officer on the truck and escort behind, says ZRA Corporate and Communications Manager, Topsy Sikalinda.
“The driver vowed that he was not going to turn to the enforcement centre, if it means him dying, he did not care and started driving the truck at a very high speed on Kafue road,” Mr Sikalinda told journalists in Lusaka yesterday. Mr Sikalindaexplained that the officer who was on the truck tried to warn the driver by firing warning shots but the driver did not compromise.
“When the truck reached Carousel traffic lights, our officer decided to be physical with the driver and as this alteration was happening, a huge group of smugglers emerged from COMESA and started attacking our officers.
“Our officers had no choice but to retreat and called for reinforcement from both the Zambia police and within ZRA. A team then moved back to site only to find the truck had been moved despite the fact that we had puncturing the tyres before leaving it,” Mr Sikalinda said.
Mr Sikalinda said the ZRA team launched a hunt for the truck which was finally found in COMESA market around 22:00 hours.
He said the team then pulled out the truck, although with resistance as the smugglers were throwing stones.