19 September 2013

Zambia: Kasumbalesa Border Opens

Operations have resumed at Kasumbalesa border near Chililabombwe after truck drivers called off their boycott to cross into the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

This follows intervention by DRC's Interior Minister Juveniel Kitungwa.

The drivers, whose boycott was sparked by the shooting and wounding of their Zimbabwean counterpart Patrick Molise, while in the DRC, called off their boycott after Mr Kitungwa assured them of enhanced security during a meeting held at the Zambian border on Wednesday afternoon.

Mr Kitungwa, who was flanked by Zambia's Consul-General in the DRC Davis Sankwana and his Zimbabwean counterpart Victor Mutetwa, assured that the Congolese government would not tolerate the harassment of drivers regardless of their nationalities.

He said mobile road patrols had been increased throughout the road network that truck drivers use as they played a key role to the country's economy through the transportation of goods and services that are either imported or exported.

Mr Kitungwa said new commanders for the police and military were recently appointed with the task of promoting professionalism and to act on erring officers.

The Katanga administration, he said, was working hard to develop the province with its abundant natural resources to overcome poverty.

Truck drivers' representative Tandiwe Tembo said the drivers faced challenges with documentation as authorities demanded bribes, while they were also harassed by civilians, police and military personnel in the DRC.

Ms Tembo said drivers needed to be protected as they transported valuable goods for consumption by Congolese nationals.

The meeting was attended by Chililabombwe District Commissioner Stuart Chitumbo, the DRC's Kasumbalesa Mayor Andrew Kapampa and several officials from both the DRC and Zambian governments.

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