Congestion at Kasumbalesa eases slowly
23 Apr 2019 - by
Truck clearing at the Kasumbalesa border between the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Zambia remains slow as authorities struggle to deal with a backlog of vehicles.
For the past few weeks more than 1000 trucks have been stuck at the border, one of the busiest and most chaotic over-border transit points in the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
According to Stanley Muluka, president of the SADC Truck Drivers’ Association, some inroads have been made in the past couple of days and the queue was no longer at Chingola, 70km south of the border.
Trucks have been standing bumper to bumper along the T3 road linking Zambia and the DRC.
“Trucks have started moving into the DRC at a slightly faster pace than we saw last week but it’s still slow going.
“The queue is no longer at Chingola although there have been problems around Lubambe where the town council was stopping trucks as they did not want congestion there.”
According to Mike Fitzmaurice of the Federation of East and Southern African Road Transport Associations (Fesarta), the queue is improving but the border post is still operating slowly.
“Over the weekend there was also an armed confrontation between the military and a group of bandits that resulted in fatalities. The information we received from the border post was that the mood was very tense.”
According to Fitzmaurice the queue is now estimated to be around 30km long.
He said the other Zambian border posts continued to face the knock-on effect with Chirundu still congested and also very slow.
Muluka said serious interventions were needed to address issues at the DRC border post.
“This is not a new problem. The SADC doesn’t seem to care about the Congo and what is happening there. Nothing is changing despite talks of intervention and promises to fix problems.”
He said despite commitments from governments, truckers operating on this route were not only in physical danger but were financially under pressure too.
“When one is sitting for weeks on end waiting to cross a border the per diems do not last. Any extra money sent to these drivers is deducted from their salaries. It’s not an easy situation for them.”
According to Fitzmaurice drivers also have no access to cooking or cleaning facilities.
“There are no toilets and they have no access to clean running water.”
Muluka said drivers were trying to fight the injustices but, with very little governmental or employer support, it was a losing battle.
“Transporters are not coming forward and saying the operations at the border post are not conducive to business and therefore pulling their trucks off the route. They just keep sending cargo and want their money but the drivers are the ones suffering.”
He said SADC governments would have to step up and address the situation sooner rather than later. “They are signing agreements and they say they are going to get security, but then the drivers are still attacked. More needs to be done to fix this situation.”