IT is imperative to find an immediate solution to problems at Kasumbalesa border where so far five truck drivers have been slain in cold blood, but the idea to close the border as suggested by the Truckers Association of Zambia (TAZ) must not be entertained.
Kasumbalesa border post is an important gateway to the north and south of the African continent, and has been used by various companies within the Southern African Development Community region and beyond to transport goods, notably minerals, as well as industrial machinery.
Actions of a few indisciplined and criminal-minded security personnel cannot force the closure of this important transit point for a bulk of mineral resources destined for the international market.
It is clear that there are rogue security personnel, especially on the other side of the border who have gone to the extent of conducting themselves as if they are law unto themselves.
And this lawlessness by the men in uniform is not peculiar to Kasumbalesa border alone. It is rather a longstanding malady that has existed for years at every border post manned by security personnel from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
For instance, many people still remember how Zambian travellers using the Pedicle Road were harassed by security personnel dubbed ‘ba Kaboke’ not necessarily for breaching immigration laws but simply for the way they looked or for committing misdemeanors.
Some people could, for instance, be fined for passing through the Pedicle with bald heads, others were punished for spotting unkempt hair or wearing hats while there were even reports of elderly persons parting away with their money because they had one or two front teeth missing.
These are just a few ‘offences’ for which Zairean soldiers extorted money from Zambian travellers. In one incident, a passenger on Zambia’s United Bus Company of Zambia bus threw a piece of paper on the Zairean soil through the window of the bus and all passengers were asked to disembark and sweep the surrounding area.’
Now that the Pedicle Road is no longer as lucrative as it used to be, ‘ba Kaboke’ have moved to Kasumbalesa where they are targeting truck drivers from whom they ask for money.
Those who do not give them are either beaten up or shot dead. Stringent security measures are needed to curb this mischief, and closing the border is certainly not one of these. COMMENT