Victoria Falls — Zambia's Revenue Authority (ZRA) has announced it will ban exportation of a cocktail of goods including vehicles, household items and groceries through Victoria Falls Border starting on 1 March.
The decision by the neighbouring country is expected to hit hard especially on Victoria Falls residents who before the lockdown relied on buying groceries, electrical gadgets, second-hand clothes (salaula) among other things from Livingstone, Zambia.
Clearing agents based in Victoria Falls are also fretting over the drastic policy measure as there will be no more imported vehicles entering Zimbabwe through Victoria Falls border.
Residents and Zambian hawkers also used to cross the border to buy or sell various goods without any restrictions.
In a statement, ZRA released restriction of points of exit for exportation of selected commercial goods by road.
It said 16 categories of goods listed in the seventh schedule to Statutory Instrument 115 of 2020 (Customs and Excise Ports of Entry and Routes) which came into effect on 1 January 2021, will not be allowed to leave that country through Victoria Falls border by any other mode of transport other than rail.
Goods carried by rail go through thorough check at departure and in transit unlike those by road where many are smuggled.
"This notice serves to inform all customs clearing agents and exporters wishing to export goods listed in the seventh schedule to Statutory Instrument 115 of 2020 that they should effect the exportation of their goods through the customs ports and aerodromes set out in the eighth schedule to the attached Statutory Instrument 115 of 2020.
"Further, note that goods for export through Victoria Falls border post shall only be transported by rail only effective the 1st of March 2021," read the SI.
The SI specifies that goods to listed under SI 115/2020 are edible oils, bulk fuels, oils and other hydrocarbon oils, tobacco and tobacco products, motor vehicles, alcoholic beverages and non-alcoholic beverages.
Electrical goods such as TV sets, radios, refrigerators, air conditioners, bulbs, cables, computers and other electronics, as well as used clothing and shoes, tyres, furniture, batteries, hardware, floor and wall tiles, pipes, bath tubs, toilet pans and timber add to the list.
Maize meal and other maize products, wheat flour, groceries, sweets, biscuits, soups and canned foods, bakery and bread, meat and sea food, snacks and crackers, cereals and other breakfast foods, pasta and rice, milk powder and other dairy products, oils, sauces, salad dressing and condiments complete the list.
Victoria Falls is one of the many borders including Chirundu which Zambia and Zambia share.
The listed goods will now be expected to go via Kazungula border.
Amos Mateyu, a clearing agent in Victoria Falls said the development will put many of them out of business.
"Tough times are coming and our town will be dead soon," he said.
The Zambian taxman has been at loggerheads with clearing agents in the neighbouring country, and last December, 34 were suspended over a transit fraud scheme amounting to K96 313 164 following removals in transit and forgery offences, according to the country's media.