Tightening security at Kasumbalesa welcome
Published On February 9, 2014 » 3478 Views» By Hildah Lumba » Opinion
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NEWS of calm returning to Zambia’s border with the Democratic Republic of Congo in Kasumbalesa is not only welcome but also a giant step towards the conclusive resolution of the impasse created by the shooting of a truck driver last week.
Whereas, the final resolution of the dispute may still be ongoing behind the scenes, it is positive that calm has returned to the border town of Chililabombwe and a return to diplomatic channels replacing the rioting that characterised the area a few days ago.
By seeking diplomatic channels to resolve the problem as espoused by President Michael Sata is the best way to put a conclusive end to
the spat that has caused the marooning of trucks in a long winding queue stretching from the border to the township.
The decision by authorities to extend closing hours from 18:00 to 20:00 hours at the border post is also a welcome move considering the
number of trucks that have been stuck at Kasumbalesa since the disturbances started.
The Kasumbalesa border is an essential trading post not only for Zambia but other countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region and  more so for Zambia which is landlocked.
Most importantly, issues such as the recent killing of a truck driver should not spark unnecessary xenophobic attacks on Congolese interests in Zambia considering the bigger picture of the relationship between  two countries.
In fact, inter-marriages between Zambians and Congolese have taken place over the years in Chililabombwe, making the two peoples one in more ways than one.
In terms of trade, modern day trade has more to do with good neighbourliness among countries using the comparative advantage of one country to its benefit.
Zambia, for one, cannot ignore the benefits of using the Kasumbalesa border not only for the truckers who earn the country the needed revenue through the taxes but also as the easiest gateway used by other countries for trade.
Just as Foreign Affairs Minister Wylbur Simuusa said, the  relationship between the two sides remain at its cordial best and residents should, therefore, remain calm while the matter is being resolved on a Government to Government level.
It has already been agreed that the seamless borders that separate countries are just but a geographical boundary showing the territorial sovereignty of one country from another, otherwise Africa is one huge country and the shooting incidents should not break such bonds.
We also welcome the tightening of security on the Zambian side of the border and hope the Zambia Police command will work hand in hand with
their Congolese counterparts to rid the area of any criminal elements.
The tightening security at Kasumbalesa is even more cardinal considering that the border has traditionally been one of the most polarised with smugglers of commodities such as mealie-meal targeting it.
It is, therefore, encouraging that the Zambia Police in conjunction with the Immigration Department has finally started screening all people entering and exiting through the border post.
The establishment of a One-stop border at Kasumbalesa such as the one Zambia shares with Zimbabwe in Chirundu and Livingstone, could be the
ultimate solution to the long queues of trucks that have become the order of the day at the border, aside from the disquiet.
The traffic at Kasumbalesa has always been a source of concern, especially that trucks virtually take over one lane of the road from Chililabombwe town, forcing other motorists to share the remainder of the space between oncoming and outgoing traffic.
For now, we are comforted that the two Governments have already opened up dialogue seeking a diplomatic solution to the dispute including following up on the proposed compensation to the families of the slain truck drivers. OPINION

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