03 Jun 2016 09:10am
KATIMA MULILO, 03 JUN (NAMPA) In order to tap into the highly competitive and growing economy of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Government will soon start expanding the Wenela border post at Katima Mulilo.
The expansion of the border post is aimed at smoothing the flow of exports and imports through the Walvis Bay-Ndola-Lubumbashi Development Corridor.
Lubumbashi is a mining town in DRC hosting a busy hub of national commercial and industrial activities of manufacturing and processing textiles, various food products, beverages, prints, bricks and copper smelting.
Ndola lies in Zambia and boasts large manufacturing industries including a major copper refinery.
However, in order to tap into these markets, Deputy Minister of Works and Transport, James Sankwasa told the media on Wednesday there is a need to expand the Wenela border post.
After a brief tour to inspect the current state of the border post, Sankwasa said Wenela, which borders with Sesheke in Zambia, struggles to deliver favourable services because of poor infrastructure.
The border needs to expand because there is a need to increase efficiency to cater for the growing number of tourists and cargo volumes entering and exiting the country. Wenela needs to be efficient to serve, so the country benefits from the Walvis Bay-Ndola-Lubumbashi Development Corridor.
DRC is part of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), which functions in and lobbies for the integral economic interest of the regional bloc, but is at the moment mainly targeted by non-SADC states so we need to need to move in with the development of this corridor, Sankwasa said.
The expansion will only start after feasibility studies have been done, including the availing of land by the Zambezi Regional Council.
Accompanied by Zambezi regional governor, Lawrence Sampofu and officials from the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration, Road Fund Administration (RFA) and Agro Marketing Trading Agency (AMTA), Sankwasa said there is a need for a stakeholder meeting to discuss the plans for expansion.
Challenges observed at the border include lack of land for custom, immigration, police, RFA and AMTA offices, while there is also a shortage of staff to execute operations at the border.
The lack of enough officials was supported by evidence of long queues at immigration points and trucks that still need to be inspected with scanners for drugs and other illegal products.
Right now, the situation border operations are chaotic. I am not saying we are ready to expand now, but we will have a stakeholder meeting where together we will draw up the needs of each office. It will be ensured that when the border is expanded, there will be sufficient lanes for trucks, sedans and pedestrians, said Sankwasa.