Zambia’s High Commissioner to South Africa Emmanuel Mwamba has expressed concern that is the sporadic attacks on Zambian truckers in South Africa is not stopped, it may affect trade volumes between the two countries.
However, Mwamba has assured Zambians of safe passage in that country saying the local protests that led to the burning down of six trucks were not specifically targeted at Zambians.
“Our trucks were caught up in two separate protests, the protest in Durban, according to media reports was stating that there were local drivers who were concerned that they were not getting jobs in the trucking business either here in South Africa or those foreign trucks, that’s what the media reports state. The one in Limpopo near the boarder with Botswana, the three trucks were also caught up in a local protests. Now that protest is totally different, I am told they are fighting about a disputed chieftaincy. But all this happened in a period of 10 days where we lost six trucks,” Mwamba explained in an interview with News Diggers, Sunday.
“So what we have done is to write to the South African government to seek an explanation and to see if they can assure us and guarantee the safety of our trucks. We also need to get an official explanation before we make conclusions, we need to hear what they get from their investigations. The protests in Durban were directed at foreign trucks, not specifically Zambian, but there are a lot of trucks that come from Zimbabwe, Botswana, Congo and Zambia. So of those 30 trucks that were burnt, only three were Zambian, so you can see from the scale that it would not be accurate to say that only Zambian trucks were targeted. Of course this one in Limpopo, it just Zambian trucks that were affected in that case, because usually truckers use in convoy.”
He said the situation needed to be arrested urgently.
“Nevertheless, the important development is that we have written to the South African government as a mission in Pretoria to get a guarantee on the safety of our trucks because this might affect trade between the two countries. As you know, we are one of South Africa’s biggest trading partner in the region, and there is anxiety among the truckers who are the principal movers of these goods, then it can affect trade. In the long term, this can also force Zambia to begin to use other ports such as Dar-es-salaam and Walvis Bay. But we want to continues using this international trade route,’ said Mwamba.
“My call is to the truckers and the businesses in Zambia. Please remain calm, we should treat these incidences as isolated so far until we get a formal explanation from this government. I also want to assure the truckers that South Africa is safe, I have been receiving a lot of calls concerning truckers who are in transit, they should be afraid and when there is an alert on any of the routes, we get a notice and we inform the truckers to avoid those routes.”