A huge consignment of mealie meal is marooned in about 20 shops on the Zambian side at Kasumbalesa border post as shop owners have locked and abandoned their premises following intensified Police patrols in Chililabombwe aimed at curbing smuggling.
Chiliabombwe District Commissioner Stuart Chitumbo has since appealed to the shop owners to avail themselves as they would only be allowed to sell their consignments at the government recommended retail prices in designated trading areas within Chililabombwe.
Mr Chitumbo who has been monitoring the mealie meal situation in the border town told ZANIS in an interview today that the resolve by the Copperbelt Police Command to deploy over 100 senior officers to Chililabombwe had paid dividends in the fight against smuggling of the commodity.
He said some bicycles already loaded with mealie meal bags and believed to belong to Congolese nationals have also been spotted in some shops while the usually busy Kasumbalesa trading area is relatively calm as foreigners who smuggle mealie meal on bicycles using bush paths are no longer loitering around the premises as previously.
He said the marooned mealie meal might go to waste if the owners of the shops don’t show up as the law enforcement officers would continue to keep vigil of the premises to ensure the consignment was not smuggled.
“The mealie meal marooned in the shops in Kasumbalesa could be well over 20 000 bags, if well counted. If the owners of the shops show up, officers will provide escort to ensure the mealie meal is transported and sold within Chililabombwe at government recommended prices,” he said.
Recently, the district administration held a stakeholders meeting to chart a way forward following the unavailability and hiked prices of mealie meal in the district at which local traders associated the high prices of the commodity to the transportation costs from milling companies.
Despite the seemingly availability of mealie meal in Chililabombwe, most outlets are still selling their consignments above the government recommended KR 50 with prices ranging from KR 55 to KR 75.