By Luckmore Safuli
Zambia has announced restrictions on exports which will see commercial trucks being banned from using the Victoria Falls Border Post with effect from the first of March, amid an outcry from citizens whose livelihoods depend on economic activities at the port of entry.
In a public notice issued recently, the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA), informed all Zambian customs agents and exporters that goods for export through Victoria Falls border post will only be transported by rail with effect from the 1st of March.
The move will see commercial trucks being diverted to the recently constructed Kazungula Bridge, a move the Zimbabwean business community feels will increase transportation costs and result in substantial revenue loss to customs agents and government departments.
“This move is going to affect a lot of organizations, we are talking of EMA, clearing agents and ZINARA was also collecting revenue from those trucks. Traffic coming out of DRC was actually using Victoria Falls as well which means Beitbridge was benefiting and those towns along the way were collecting revenue; they were collecting money in the form of fuel sales and drivers buying some items.”
ZRA Corporate Communications Manager, Topsy Sikalinda says the measures are meant to reduce the movement of trucks in Livingstone which is Zambia’s tourism capital and to also preserve the iconic Victoria Falls Bridge.
“We are doing this in order to preserve the bridge and apart from preserving the bridge we also want to bring sanity in the city of Livingstone which as you know is a tourism capital. We have a lot of trucks that make a lot of noise and bring disorder, so we certainly need to bring sanity.”
Former Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) Vice President Mr Ozias Marange said the port of entry which is along the North-South corridor should remain a commercial border in support of regional trade.
“By just that diversion it will be difficult and very expensive to transport goods and it is not something that we can take easily. Maybe our government needs to intervene and engage their counterpart. By just adding the 200kms and factoring in another country, Botswana, it’s going to be very costly.”
Meanwhile, the latest move by Zambia to divert trucks from Victoria Falls border post to other alternative routes is likely to result in increased activity at the Kazungula Bridge which is set to be operationalised soon.
By Luckmore Safuli