The Namibia Chamber of Commence and Industry says close to 200 cargo trucks which were transporting Mukula timber from DRC to Walvis bay have been impounded by the Zambian authorities illegally and for the past 5 months business has been threatened.
According to Jacques Steenkamp a representative from Walvis Bay Corridor Forum, a group of affected cargo truck owners, over the past 5 months around N$6.8 million to N$7.8 million has been lost as their trucks stand idle in Zambia.
Steenkamp said to make matters worse as result of the impounding, drivers have been living in deplorable and inhumane conditions in Zambia for the past 5 months.
“The impounding of our trucks has hampered our business drastically. There is currently a lot of cargo that cannot be transported out of the port of Walvis bay due to lack of trucks because so many of them are standing idle in Zambia,” he added.
According to Tarah Shaanika, the trucks are carrying Mukula Timber harvested in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) which is set to be delivered to China via the Walvis Bay port.
“We understand that Mukula timber is prohibited to be harvested in Zambia but not DRC. Our trucks carried timber from the DRC with valid documentation and were found to be valid,” he added.
Shaanika said while harvesting of Makula timber is not permitted in Zambia, the Zambian law never disallowed such timber to be transported on Zambian roads until April 2017.
“The law was enacted and implemented retrospectively which is neither normal nor legal and the Zambian government implemented laws affecting operations on the corridor with out consulting other member states,” he added.
Shaanika said that the Chamber has engaged the Zambian and Namibian authorities on several occasion to resolve the dispute diplomatically but efforts have not yet yielded results.