10 Apr Kasumbalesa queue now 72km long
All transit traffic into Zambia has been halted with immediate effect as congestion continues to escalate at the country’s border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
According to Mike Fitzmaurice of Fesarta, the truck queue has reached the town of Chambishi, situated between Chingola and Kitwe in the Zambian Copperbelt, 72km from the Kasumbalesa border post.
“The situation is very serious and getting worse by the day,” he told FTW.
With a 72km long queue along the T3 road linking Zambia and the DRC, the Kasumbalesa border post congestion has spilt over to all of the other Zambian borderposts where all transit traffic is being denied access into the country.
“All transit traffic headed for the DRC is being stopped at all of the Zambian borderposts,” said Fitzmaurice. “They are not issuing any T1s, the documentation required to transit the country.”
This includes the Nakonde border post between Tanzania and Zambia that carries most of the fuel going into the DRC, Chirundu, the main border post on the North/South corridor coming from Zimbabwe, the alternative route via Victoria Falls and Katangese between Zambia and Botswana.
With trucks only moving about 2km per day it is estimated it will take at least a month to clear the current truck backlog.
“The transit time through Zambia is only three days and with the current congestion into the DRC it is near impossible to be out of the country within that time.”
Fitzmaurice said there was no clear indication at present of what the situation was at the Kasumbalesa border post coming into Zambia
“We suspect that it is congested both ways.”
He said there were various reasons for the current situation including ongoing bureaucratic differences between the DRC and Zambia. Inefficiency at the border post exacerbated the situation, while all of the DRC’s border post
employees lived in Lubumbashi some 100km from the border post resulting in nearly half a day being lost every day for the transit of employees to and from work.
To make matters worse, said Fitzmaurice, drivers were turning on each other and several violent incidents had been reported. In a video sent to FTW drivers can be seen fighting and viciously attacking each other.
Fitzmaurice said tensions were running high as drivers had been sitting in the queue for days on end with no access to any ablution facilities or fresh running water.
“It is believed that some of the violent outburst have been because some people are trying to jump the queue to get ahead. This situation is very serious and concerning.”