INTERNATIONAL truck drivers have started crossing into the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), ending a five day boycott sparked by the brutal killing of 28-year-old Zambian truck driver, Patrick Mwila by a Congolese soldier in that country.
The drivers agreed to call off the boycott following a protracted tripartite meeting held yesterday at Kasumbalesa Border Post involving the Zambian Government officials, their DRC counterparts and the drivers’ representatives aimed at resolving the impasse.
The impasse, which yesterday entered day five, saw hundreds of trucks stranded at Kasumbalesa Border Post in Chililabombwe.
Over 800 trucks were counted parked in a queue stretching a distance of about 10 kilometres on the road leading from Chililabombwe town to the border post.
Many other trucks estimated to be over 100 were found parked in Chililabombwe town, about 18 kilometres away from the border post.
But after a lengthy meeting that started around 11:00 hours and only ended after 16:00 hours led by Copperbelt Minister Mwenya Musenge and DRC’s Interior Minister for Katanga Province Juvenile Kitungwa, the truck drivers agreed to call off the boycott.
This was after Mr Kitungwa accepted that the DRC government was going to compensate the family of Mr Mwila as he was killed by a soldier of that country.
Mr Kitungwa, who regretted the death of Mr Mwila and conveyed condolences to the irate
drivers, said the DRC government was committed to addressing all the drivers’ concerns regarding their security and safety whilst in the DRC.
“We are doing everything possible to ensure that we improve on security and safety of the drivers because we do realise that you are very important to our country which depends on vehicle transport to ferry products such as copper,” Mr Kitungwa said.
He, however, said the challenge faced by his government was the possession of fire arms by many security personnel.
Mr Kitungwa said this was because of the current problem of militias in that country which required many security personnel to be armed for security reasons.
Earlier, the truck drivers through their representative Stanley Mukuka, demanded that the DRC government should reduce the number of security personnel carrying guns as they were using the fire arms on innocent people.
Meanwhile, 68 people have been apprehended in Luanshya in connection with the riots that took place in that town on Sunday.
Copperbelt Police Commissioner Joyce Kasosa said in an interview yesterday that 68 people were apprehended in connection with the confusion that took place on Sunday when residents harassed traders from the DRC.
She said once they were charged, it would be known whether they would be taken to court or made to pay fines.
On Sunday, Luanshya residents rioted to protest the killing of a Zambian driver, of Luanshya by a Congolese soldier in the DRC on Wednesday night.
Mr Mwila was buried on Sunday in Luanshya.
Times of Zambia