Think-tank warns of rampant smuggling
By BUUMBA CHIMBULU
TRADE barriers causing significant congestion of hundreds of trucks at the Kasumbalesa Border must immediately be eliminated as this pose a threat to smuggling activities.
This is according to the Centre for Trade Policy and Development (CTPD) Researcher – Trade and Development, Emmanuel Muma.
Mr Muma has urged Government, specifically the Ministry of Commerce Trade and Industry, to take swift action to eliminate trade barriers causing significant congestion of hundreds of trucks at the Kasumbalesa border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
He said the current situation, which has caused truck congestion extending up to Kitwe-Chingola Road, was highly unfavourable and must be addressed immediately.
CTPD, he said, believed that this issue must be resolved as it obstructed trade and investment between the Congo DR and other Southern African and Development Community (SADC) countries.
“CTPD is also concerned about the nation’s reputation as a trading country, especially since some of the trucks may be carrying perishable goods that are spoiling.
“Furthermore, the stranded trucks along local roads could result in an increase in illicit activities in the surrounding areas such as theft, sexual exploitation of young girls, and smuggling of goods,” Mr Muma said in a statement.
He stated that CTPD believed that it was critical for Zambia and Congo DR to devote their bilateral relations and agreements to resolving the current situation at the Kasumbalesa Border.
He pointed out that Kasumbalesa remained one of Zambia’s busiest borders and trading marketplace, and had been steadily growing in recent years, providing tremendous business and employment opportunities for both countries.
According to Mr Muma, a recent spot check between Kitwe and Chingola revealed that there were over a hundred trucks parked along the Kitwe-Chingola Road, almost reaching the Wilson Mofya Chakulya Toll Plaza.
“It was also observed that a number of local community boys and girls were now engaging in trade activities such as delivering water and other merchandise to the truck drivers, which poses a risk, particularly to young girls and women who may be exposed to sexual favours.
“Meanwhile, the affected truck drivers also complained about a lack of access to clean water and toilets, as well as the associated trade costs of taking longer than expected to reach the Kasumbalesa border,” he said.
Mr Muma noted that given that Zambia intended to increase its trading volumes through the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), efficient customs and border clearance of goods and services was a competitive requirement.
“If the country is truly open for business, these are some of the bottlenecks that must be addressed immediately,” he said.