30 May 2017 19:00pm
WINDHOEK, 30 MAY (NAMPA) Over 70 Namibian trucks and drivers are still stranded in Zambia after they were earlier this year intersected and impounded by Zambian authorities.
Speaking at a media conference on Monday, Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) Chief Executive Officer, Tarah Shaanika said the stranded drivers are living in deplorable and inhumane conditions in Zambia.
They have been very far from their families and it is very depressing, he stressed.
In February, about 200 Namibian trucks contracted by various customers to transport timber from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), were intersected and impounded when they entered the Zambian territory.
They were impounded for transporting Mukula timber, which Zambia prohibits the harvest of within its borders because the tree is endangered there. This particular timber is legally harvested in the DRC.
Shaanika emphasised that the goods on the trucks were not harvested in Zambia but by businesses operating in the DRC with valid permits from the DRC Government.
The Namibian truckers were simply transporting goods from the suppliers to the clients and were never involved in the harvesting of the timber, he explained.
Despite the valid and authentic documents the truckers availed to the Zambian customs officials at the Kasumbalesa Border Post situated between DRC and Zambia, they still impounded the trucks.
In April, the Zambian Government passed a law that disallows the transport of Mukula timber on Zambian roads.
This law was enacted and implemented retrospectively which is neither normal nor legal, said Shaanika.
Since the trucks were impounded, Namibian transport and logistics companies have reportedly made a loss of about N.dollars 100 million.
Co-owner of Kabt Holdings, Jacques Steenkamp, raised concern at the media conference, saying they have not yet received any report from the Zambian authorities since the trucks were impounded.
We came to a dead-end and we are losing customers as we speak on the Walvis Bay-Ndola-Lubumbashi [Development] Corridor, he said.
The NCCI has engaged the Zambian and Namibian authorities on several occasions to resolve this dispute diplomatically and amicably, but these efforts did not yield in a release, said Shaanika.
The trucks remain impounded in Zambia.