(By Edwin Mbulo in Kasane, Botswana)
TRUCK Drivers Association of Zambia has written to President Edgar Lungu complaining of security risks along the Mazabuka-Chilanga and Ndola-Chililabombwe routes.
And the truck drivers have told President Lungu that they are subjected to a lot of insults from customs and traffic officers in Zambia than in other countries.
In a communiqué issued to Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana ministers of infrastructure, communications and transport, who had accompanied Presidents Lungu, Zimbabwe’s Emmerson Mnangagwa and Botswana’s Ian Khama for a closed door meeting and tour of the Kazungula Bridge construction project, the drivers highlighted a number of their concerns.
“As we are trying to serve different countries through our hard work, truck drivers pass through difficult situations which make our work to be very difficult and dangerous,” the communiqué read in part.
The drivers tabulated five areas of concern which include delayed processing of documents at borders by customs officers. The truck drivers also noted that there was lack of respect by customs officers whenever they complain against their [customs] poor working attitude. The drivers further complained that the law in Botswana which did not allow truck driving from 06:00 hours during weekends and public holidays was affecting their work.
“Most truck drivers are being attacked by thieves while in long queues, forcing their companies to charge them,” the communiqué added.
And the truck drivers complained to President Lungu that they were subjected to a lot of insults from customs and traffic officers in Zambia than in other countries.
The drivers added that there were no toilets and showers at border facilities for drivers.
“Some traffic officers delay us on the road even when a truck has everything (documentation)…therefore we are appealing to you Sir, to consider our cries in order for us to serve our country through this industry of truck driving,” the communiqué read.
Meanwhile, Truck Drivers Association of Zambia representative Richard Chola told the ministers that the drivers feared that despite construction of the Kazungula Bridge, queues and other challenges such the lack of toilets would continue just as was the case with the one-border-post at Chirundu.
He sought assurance that truck drivers would not face similar challenges as those at Chirundu.
“We have a challenge as truck drivers. We are having a bridge being built here but most of the time, we have a challenge with queues, so what measures are you going to put as we will have a huge number of trucks coming here which cannot be accommodated even on the Zambian side in the parking yard?” Chola asked.
“When I compare with Chirundu, which is a one stop border post, we sometimes tend to park on the Zambian side before crossing because on the Zimbabwean side, the space is very small and it is in the park…”
Botswana Minister of Transport Kitso Mokaila, in response, said the long-term solution to the problem being faced by the truck drivers at
Kazungula was the construction of the bridge.
He added that there were discussions with Botswana Ministry of Lands so that a place could be found in Lisuma area for construction of a truck-stop.
“A Truck-Stop, which will be communicating with the border to call trucks so that the congestion along the road is not there, health facilities are provided, accommodation and garages are provided. As a matter of fact, you will be seeing an expression of interest to find a private sector [company] that will be interested in creating the truck-stop,” said Mokaila.