Another Mealie Meal and Maize Smuggling Operation headed for DRC busted
A combined team of Zambia National Service (ZNS) and Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) officers in North-Western province has seized over 10 thousand by 25 kilograms (kg) bags of mealie meal and about five thousand by 50kg bags of maize suspected to be destined for Democratic of Congo through Kipushi border in Mushindamo district.
This comes to light after ZNS conducted an operation following a tip off from community members that a lot of maize is being smuggled into Congo DR using undesignated routes and local’s people’s homes have turned into warehouses.
Speaking to journalists during an inspection of the area in Chief Musaka chiefdom, North-Western ZNS Commanding Officer, Colonel Mabvuto Banda said the situation at the border was bad and this prompted the command to conduct an anti-maize smuggling operation to control the illegal exports of maize and mealie meal from the border post.
“We received a tip-off from well-wishers that the situation in Mushindamo is not good in that people have turned their houses into warehouses for mealie meal and maize. There were more than 100 trucks parked in this area offloading mealie meal and maize into people’s homes,” Colonel Banda said.
He added that Musaka residents have surrendered their homes and given them to smugglers to stock their merchandise at a cost of K1 per bag while they spend nights in the cold.
“We have established that the locals in Musaka area are renting out their houses to traders to store mealie meal and maize which is later transported in smaller quantities into DRC using bicycles and motorcycles through bush paths at night”, he said.
Colonel Banda added that the service will continue to guard against smuggling of mealie meal and maize in order to retain and maintain food security in the country.
He explained that ZNS has intensified patrols around the Kipushi border area in Musaka chiefdom to ensure no mealie meal or maize is smuggled out of the country by some unscrupulous traders.
“As ZNS we are not going to sleep until we return all the grain into the country”, he said.
Col Banda said all the seized maize will be surrendered to the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) while the mealie meal has been handed over to ZRA.
He has appealed to the local people to stop protecting traders engaged in the smuggling of mealie meal and maize out of the country by not allowing them to use their houses as storage facilities.
The commanding officer has also warned traders involved in smuggling that they will face the full wrath of the law.
Meanwhile, ZRA Solwezi Customs Station Manager Martin Banda has described the situation in Musaka area as unfortunate.
“This is so unfortunate because you can imagine if all this maize and mealie meal is exported into Congo illegally then how much are we going to be left with as a country to maintain our food stability,” he questioned.
He said ZRA will issue seizure notices to the owners of the maize and mealie meal including the vessels and they will be given 15 days in which to appeal the decision if they feel aggrieved.
And Chief Musaka has appealed to government not to seize the maize and mealie meal but give the affected traders an opportunity to sell their merchandise to food FRA.
Chief Musaka said the local people are highly affected because the area has no satellite depot where they can take their maize.
“The problem that we have here is that we do not have an FRA depot in the area, hence our people take maize to Congo which is the nearest market”, he said.
His royal highness said he does not want to see people suffering and food going to waste, hence the government should find a way to curb smuggling and also provide a market for the local people to sell their maize.
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