Transporters threaten to pull out of DRC route as Kasumbalesa chaos reigns

Road hauliers are threatening to pull the plug on freight going into the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) because of constraints at the border post of Kasumbalesa, the DRC’s main transit point with Zambia.

Industry sources have reported scenes of truck queues snaking for up to 60 kilometres south towards Chililabombwe in Zambia, resulting in a sharp spike in delay-related costs and cargo destined for the DRC being increasingly turned away.

The head of Greendoor’s marketing division, Sandra de Kock, said the situation in the DRC was so bad they were considering pulling out of the Beira-Kasumbalesa line altogether.

She added that a lot of other clients shipping cargo from Mozambique’s northern port were considering doing the same.

Seguro MD Stefan Viljoen said customs at Kasumbalesa was in “utter chaos”, with IT systems crashing and trucks taking longer and longer to get into the DRC.

He said it used to take around two days to get through.

“Lately it takes a truck around five to six, even seven days to get through. It’s simply not worth it any more. For every day a truck stands, waiting to get cleared, it costs around R4000 to R6500 a day in waiting costs. That’s why we’re beginning to turn DRC cargo away.”

One of the most vociferous critics, who requested anonymity, slammed the decision to build a new parking facility at the post, claiming its purpose was to squeeze more fees out of transporters.

“It costs $200 on the Zambia side to get through and a further $200 in the DRC. Additional fees of around $35 are levied for ancillary facilities like parking and so forth, not to even mention carbon tax and other levies on the Zambia side. It all adds up, making it impossible to do business.”

He argued that one of the biggest reasons for the mess was the DRC’s decision to limit the number of trucks it was letting through to 200 a day, down from 500.

As a result, the build-up of backed-up truck traffic in Zambia was reaching astronomical proportions, choking hinterland routes south of the border.

“Add to that the DRC’s decision to build a new parking area, and it seems that Kasumbalesa is there to milk transporters.”

CFR road freight manager Hilton Tait agreed that the situation in the DRC had become an “absolute nightmare.

“Thankfully we’ve been lucky as smaller trucks seem to take less time. But yes, it’s become an intolerable situation.”

Eugene Goddard

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