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8.8. Issues related to transit
There are plus minus 540 trucks loaded with Mukula Wood which were loaded in the DRC, impounded by the Zambian Government in Zambia.
There is another plus minus 600 trucks still on the DRC side which have been refused entry through Zambia. These 540 trucks impounded in Zambia have been there for approximately 60 to 70 days in all different areas of the country, in the middle of the bush without any water, sanitation or access to supplies.
There has already been incidence of drivers having to leave their trucks in critical condition with malaria and other drivers with diabetes that have run out of medication, as well as a driver who suffered a stroke this morning at Kafue.
The goods were loaded in Lubambashi and other areas in the DRC and the wood is in transit through Zambia to various Ports in Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania and Mozambique.
No Seizure Notices of any sort have been given to the drivers, they trucks were impounded by the Zambian National Services and according to them it comes from the top and their hands are tied.
Last week Friday 28 April, a contingent of around 28 transporters and exporters from the DRC met with the Zambian Director of Lands to try and resolve this matter and after discussion, he informed us that there were two teams travelling around the country to verify the cargoes and endeavour to get them released.
After this meeting we met with the Permanent Secretary’s Office in Lusaka and demanded a meeting. Whereafter, we had a consultation lasting approximately 1.5 hours. The Secretary assured us that two teams had been appointed to the task of travelling around Zambia with the aim of releasing the impounded vehicles.
We brought to his attention the inhumane conditions in which these drivers have been detained and although he empathized he didn’t seem overly concerned about their plight.
On the same day, Friday a team had to be rushed to Nkonde Border between Zambia and Tanzania where there were about 110 trucks stuck on the Zambian side as Tanzania had temporarily closed the border due to the discontent on the drivers. The Secretary told us these trucks would be released the same day but until now, nothing has happened and the trucks are still there.
The 180 trucks stuck at the Kasumbalesa Border between DRC and Zambia on the Zambian side which were inspected and verified on Sunday are still stuck there and no one has been released and ZNS are not telling the drivers why they have not been released.
We estimate that there is in the region of 80-90 South Africa trucks being detained and the rest comprise of Zambian, Tanzanian, Botswana and Namibia trucks.
As you can imagine this has caused chaos with the Transporters as the banks are not getting paid and people are losing their businesses because of the dire situation. We need urgent intervention to prevent any further destruction of our businesses and the welfare of our drivers.
We have this minute been informed by drivers on the Zambian/Tanzania Border on the Zambian Side, that plus minus 250 trucks have been locked and surrounded by the Zambian Army and the drivers told to go home until further notice.
NOT ONE TRUCK HAS BEEN ALLOWED TO LEAVE.
- Progress update note
On 8th June Namibia Focal Point prpvided the following update and plea for Zambia to release the trucks:
The Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) has been intervening in this issue since it was brought to their attention by their members affected by this development.
During February 2017, a number of Namibian trucks contracted by various customers to transport timber from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) were intersected and impounded by the Zambian authorities once they entered the Zambian territory. The goods on those trucks were NOT harvested in Zambia but by businesses operating in the DRC with valid permits from the Government of the DRC to do so. The Namibian truckers were simply transporting goods from the suppliers to the clients and were never involved in the harvesting of the timber. Namibia understand that the Mukula timber which caused the impounding, is prohibited to be harvested in Zambia but not in the DRC.
Namibia trucks carried timber from the DRC with valid documentations which were inspected by Zambian customs officials and found to be valid and authentic. The Zambian authorities even sealed the cargo at the Kasumbalesa border post between DRC and Zambia which under normal circumstances would be inspected again at the Sesheke-Katima Mulilo border post. Despite the valid and authentic documents which Namibia drivers had and despite the Zambian authorities having satisfied themselves at the boarders that the trucks were carrying goods legally, the same Zambian authorities still impounded trucks.
While the harvesting of makula timber is not permitted in Zambia, the Zambian law never disallowed such timber to be transported on Zambian roads until April 2017 when they reportedly passed a law preventing the transportation of mukula timber on Zambian roads. This law was enacted and implemented retrospectively which is neither normal nor legal. The NCCI has engaged the Zambian and Namibian authorities on several occasions to resolve this dispute diplomatically and amicably but these efforts did not yield any results.
Namibia trucks remain impounded illegally by the Zambian Government. As a result of the impounding, Namibian drivers have been living in deplorable and inhumane conditions in Zambia for the past five months, far away from their families. NCCI members (the trucking companies) lost a lot of money totalling close to N$ 100 million (a hundred million Namibian Dollars). Their trucks have been standing in Zambia without generating income and some of our members are at risk of losing their businesses altogether. It is important to understand that the Walvis Bay – Ndola – Lubumbashi corridor was developed to promote trade within the region and with the outside world. A lot of efforts were made to promote this transport corridor.
On the 5th of March 2010, the Governments of DRC, Namibia and Zambia signed an agreement which established the Walvis Bay – Ndola – Lubumbashi Development Corridor and since then, we have seen a significant growth in the movements of goods along that corridor. Unfortunately, there were also more goods destined for Zambia and DRC from the Port of Walvis Bay in comparison with goods from Zambia and DRC to Namibia or to the outside world via the Port of Walvis Bay. One of the products identified to be transported as a return load from the DRC to the Port of Walvis Bay was timber and the main market destination was China.
A number of trucks from various countries, primarily Namibia, Zambia, DRC, Tanzania and South Africa started taking timber from the DRC as a return load. It is unfortunate and regrettable that the Zambian authorities decided to impound trucks for such a long time instead of impounding the products which they were trying to protect. The impounding of our trucks has harmed our economy severely, at the time when our economy is already not doing well. There is clear evidence of the impact of the impounding of our trucks on the transport and logistics sector in Namibia. There is currently a lot of cargo that cannot be transported out of the Port of Walvis Bay due to lack of trucks because so many of them are kept standing in Zambia. The timber crisis that we are now experiencing could have been avoided if there was effective communication amongst SADC member states and especially the signatory to the Walvis Bay – Ndola – Lubumbashi Development Corridor Agreement. The Zambian Government implemented laws affecting the operations on the corridor without consulting other member states as required by the agreement they signed in Livingstone in March 2010.
In fact, the Zambian Government has violated that very same agreement. As a representative body for businesses in Namibia, the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry demanded for an immediate release of our trucks unconditionally. We further urge the Zambian and all other Governments which are party to the Walvis Bay – Ndola – Lubumbashi Development Corridor agreement to adhere to this agreement strictly in order to ensure that the corridor plays its rightful role in the development of trade within SADC.
- Policy or regulatory NTB
Zambia: Several Locations in Zambia (Other)
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