5 December 2012

Zambia: Plug Kasumbalesa Mess

opinion

FOR many years now Kasumbalesa border linking Zambia with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has remained porous, giving rise to unbridled trade particularly in essential goods such as mealie-meal and other foodstuff.

The border post has continued to be the centre-stage of unchecked trade despite the establishment of the US25 million modern facility housing the Immigration Department and the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA).

The visit by Copperbelt Permanent Secretary Stanford Msichili on Monday brought to the fore the expansion of an illegal open market on the Zambia side at which various items are sold including the outlawed Tujilijili.

Recently, Vice-President Guy Scott visited the border post and was surprised at the high rate mealie-meal was being carted across the border at the time the Copperbelt was experiencing a shortage of the staple food.

One of the most effective interventions is the regular convening of the Joint Permanent Commission (JPC) to thrash out contentious issues such as rampant illegal trade across the border.

Yes, Zambia has a liberalised economy but rules governing trade should not be thrown to the wind.

The existence of ZRA and Immigration officers entails that entry and exit of people and goods ought to be regulated.

No one person is allowed to cross international borders without a valid passport or travel document.

There is also a procedure in ferrying goods in bulk across the border especially merchandise meant for resale.

One therefore wonders why some people use bush paths to ferry goods across the border when there is enough room for passage at the modern border facility.

Mr Msichili's directive to enhance security in Chililabombwe and Kasumbalesa is thus meant to curb illegalities that have dogged that part of the country.

The JPC is an effective avenue through which interventions could jointly be implemented and followed up.

Sensitisation programmes must be initiated by the ZRA, Immigration Department, police, and other security wings.

Trade should only be conducted in designated areas and not on "no-man's" land as has been the case.

ZRA Kasumbalesa border station manager Levy Simatimbe did point out to Mr Msichili's delegation that traders at the controversial open market on the Zambian side do sell Tujilijili.

This is indeed sad and illegal.

Is the Chililabombwe Municipal Council aware about this?

What should be done?

This is food for thought for the local authority as well as the Zambia Police Service.

The council and the Ministry of Lands, Environment and Natural Resources should check the beacons and design distinct marks to avoid encroachment.

Zambia and DRC share one of the longest border lines and as such cultural patterns are similar and so are dialects.

Citizens on both sides of the border are friendly and should be able to heed advice on regulations governing cross- border trade.

Control measures therefore cannot be difficult to implement.

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