Kasumbalesa crisis: Boycott continues

DR CONGO / ZAMBIA | Kasumbalesa Border
DR CONGO / ZAMBIA | Kasumbalesa Border

HUNDREDS of trucks are marooned at Kasumbalesa Border Post in Chililabombwe following the boycott by international drivers to cross into the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The boycott, which yesterday entered day four, follows the brutal killing of 28-year-old Patrick Mwila, a Zambian truck driver, by a Congolese soldier on Wednesday last week.
A Times reporter yesterday found many trucks estimated to be over 500 parked in a queue stretching a distance of about 10 kilometres on the road leading from Chililabombwe town to the border post.
Many others were found parked in Chililabombwe town, about 18 kilometres away from the border post.
Zambia Revenue Authority Kasumbalesa station manager Levy Simatimbe said the border post was open and the situation was calm despite the boycott by the truck drivers on the Zambian side.
Mr Simatimbe said trucks from the DRC crossing into Zambia were being cleared normally by Zambian customs authorities.
Some drivers interviewed said they would only start crossing into the DRC after a meeting involving Zambian and DRC officials today called to address their grievances.
Morrison Chavula said the drivers were calling for increased manpower on the Zambian border side so that trucks crossing from the DRC could be quickly cleared.
Mr Chavula said the other demand was for authorities to establish a parking bay on the Zambian side for international trucks in transit so that drivers travelling from the DRC into Zambia would not need to wait for longer spells.
“What caused the death of our friend are unnecessary delays by customs authorities on the Zambian border side to clear trucks which result in congestion that side.
“Our colleague was shot dead whilst stuck in congestion in DRC waiting to cross into Zambia and if customs authorities here were efficient, the deceased would not have been approached by the soldier for money which led to his death,” Mr Chavula said.
Meanwhile, Home Affairs Minister Ngosa Simbyakula has said Government will seriously engage DRC authorities to see how best the safety of international drivers could be addressed.
Dr Simbyakula, who appealed for calm, said an amicable solution would be found to the continued killing of truck drivers in the neighbouring country.