Zambia’s porous borders exacerbate smuggling

SMUGGLING at Zambia’s border posts can only be tackled if law enforcement agents increase their presence and become more proactive, says Cross Border Traders Association of Zambia (CBTAZ) president Felix Daka. 

Mr Daka said there was high level of carelessness in the management of Zambia’s entry points which had opened up unfair competition for local traders from foreign dealers.

He explained that it was almost impossible to find Zambians without documents freely doing business in other countries like many foreigners were doing in the country.

“There is no way we can allow foreigners without papers to freely play in our country while it is impossible for Zambians to  do the same in Malawi or Tanzania.

“The problem at the borders has created unfair competition because foreign traders were using bush paths instead of passing through customs, and ware not paying anything in terms of import tax,” he said. He said the most affected border points are Nakonde bordering with Tanzania, and the Mwami border in Chipata with Malawi.

Mr Daka said the porous borderlines were more pronounced on the Zambian side compared to the situation with our neighbours who had security personnel positioned along all possible entry points.

The CBTAZ boss however expressed satisfaction with the southern borders which were stricter in monitoring entry of foreign persons and products into Zambia.

He said some Zambians have been arrested for illegally trading in Malawi or Tanzania, which was not the same situation for foreign traders coming into the country.

“In fact this problem is more distinct in the north and eastern borders which have a negative effect on competition against our local traders because they lose the market to cheap products brought in freely.

“They bring in potatoes, rice, soap and even cooking oil without going through customs and this denies government money and affects profit earning by the local businessmen who are forced to reduce prices to match with imports,” he said.

He has since called on the various local authorities at the various border points, as well as the customs and immigration departments to increase their presence to control illegal trade.

Mr Daka also warned that the situation at most Zambian border posts was  dangerous in view of the Ebola threat.