The Namibian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive ofﬁ cer Tarah Shaanika has called on the government of Zambia to release the Namibian trucks that were impounded during February 2017, the Villager has learnt.
Speaking at a Press Conference held by the NCCI recently, Shaanikah expressed concern over the impounded trucks saying that a number of Namibian trucks contracted by various customers to transport timber from the Democratic of Congo (DRC) were intersected and impounded by the Zambian authorities once they entered the territory without communicating about their new rules.
“The goods on those trucks were not harvested in Zambia but by businesses operating in the DRC with valid permits from the Government of the DRC to do so, the Namibian truckers were simply transporting goods from suppliers to the clients and were never involved in the harvesting of timber,” Shaanika explained.
He further added that he understands that the Mukula timber which caused the impounding is prohibited to be harvested in Zambia but not in the DRC noting that, “Our trucks carried timber form the DRC with valid documentations which were inspected by Zambian customs ofﬁ cials and found to be valid and authentic.
The Zambian authorities even sealed the cargo at the Kasumbalesa boarder post between DRC and Zambia which under normal circumstances would be inspected again at the Sesheke-Katima Mulilo border post.” The Villager understands that, despite the valid and authentic documents which drivers had and despite the Zambian authorities having satisﬁ ed themselves at the board that the trucks were carrying goods legally, its government continued to impound trucks without valid reasons. According to Shaanikah, the harvesting of makula timber is not permitted in Zambia, their law also never disallowed such timber to be transported on Zambian roads until April 2017 after a new law was enacted and implemented retrospectively.
He further believes that the Zambian law should have communicated its new laws to all SADC regions as the Zambian route is used to do business from few African countries which he also describes as unethical and not normal for the Zambian government to take such actions. Currently there are 70 drivers stuck in Zambia and over 200 trucks impounded by the Zambian government.
“We want our trucks and drivers back, we are losing a lot through their actions and if the Zambian government does not want to cooperate we might be forced to take further actions, we have addressed this issue to the ministry of works and transport, trade and Industrialisation and we have also written them a couple of letters but did not get any responses from them,” he said.
The NCCI also revealed that it has engaged the Zambian and Namibian authorities on several occasions to resolve the dispute diplomatically and amicably, however, no efforts yield any results the trucks remain impounded illegally by the Zambian government.