Over 1,000 trucks marooned at Kasumbalesa border under tense conditions

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OVER 1,000 truck drivers have boycotted crossing into the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) causing congestion at Kasumbalesa due to alleged insecurity and harassment by Police and military personnel in that country.

The boycott which started on Monday was sparked by the shooting and wounding of Patrick Molise, a Zimbabwean truck driver, who other drivers allege was shot at by security personnel last Friday and has since been evacuated to Zimbabwe.

The development prompted government officials led by Chililabombwe District Commissioner Stuart Chitumbo to convene a meeting with authorities in the DRC led by Kasumbalesa Mayor Andrew Kapampa to chart a solution to the driver%u2019s grievances yesterday.

The drivers from various Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) countries complained of the unsafe working environment in the DRC as they are harassed and charged unofficial fees by uniformed personnel from the Police,the military and immigration.

Speaking through their representative Tandiwe Tembo, a female truck driver, the drivers complained that they were being harassed, charged various fees and detained at various points on their way to their destinations within the DRC.

Ms Tembo called for an intervention from governments in the region to address the escalating situation as the drivers feared for their lives thus they need to be protected during the course of their duties.

She said the drivers needed protection as they contributed to the economies of the various countries in the region through the transportation of goods and services as well as the payment of fees.

And Kasumbalesa Mayor Andrew Kapampa said the Congolese government had intensified Police patrols on the major roads following the shooting of a Zimbabwean truck driver.

Mr Kapampa said investigations into the shooting incident were currently underway and that culprits would be prosecuted once identified.

He called on the drivers to avoid using Congolese nationals to formalize the required documentation when operating in the DRC as they risked being swindled and charged exorbitant fees.

Mr Kapampa further urged the drivers to report people that demand for unauthorised fees to the relevant government officials to ensure punitive measures such as suspensions are effected to curb the vice.

Meanwhile, Mr Chitumbo called for continuous dialogue between truck drivers and the relevant governments to ensure grievances are amicably addressed to avoid protests that lead to revenue loss for the government and the truckers.

Five hundred trucks are cleared at Kasumbalesa Border on a daily basis.

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