By Leonard Ncube
Zambian authorities say they have not entirely banned movement of non-commercial goods in and out of Zimbabwe through the Victoria Falls Border Post.
Responding to widespread concerns following the recently issued a statement announcing restriction of commercial cargo by road through Victoria Falls border with effect from March 1, the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA), only commercial cargo and goods in excess of 16 tonnes would be restricted from using Victoria Falls port by road.
The move has raised concerns among a cross section of Zimbabweans who felt the country would lose out on bilateral trade and customs revenue.
Clearing agents feared they would lose business while Victoria Falls residents also said their livelihoods would be affected since many of them used to buy goods from Livingstone before lockdown.
ZRA corporate communications manager, Mr Topsy Sikalinda, restricting commercial cargo volumes was meant to preserve the Victoria Falls Bridge as a tourist destination as well as ensuring sanity.
“We have not banned any groceries or stopped any product from being imported or exported. Please note that non-commercial cargo or vehicles below 16 tons will still be allowed to use the Victoria Falls border post,” he said.
“All products can go through the border except that they should be below 16 tonnes if they are using the road and if they are above 16 tonnes then they should use rail.
“The border remains available for use to all hawkers, individual traders and tourists.”
Mr Sikalinda said this was in line with Zambia’s Statutory Instrument 115 of 2020 that came into effect on 1st January 2021. But ordinary, he explained, citizens and hawkers can still use the border as long as their goods do not exceed 16 tonnes. This means that all importation and exportation of commercial cargo through the Victoria Falls border will only be allowed on rail transport.
Also, all commercial cargo intended for import and export by road should use alternative entry or exit points such as Kazungula or Chirundu borders, he said.
Zambia and Botswana recently completed constructing the Kazungula Bridge across the Zambezi River, a facility that is expected to enhance smooth passage of cargo on the north-south corridor.
“This measure is meant to preserve the Victoria Falls Bridge and also bring sanity to Livingstone town, which is Zambia’s main tourist capital,” said Mr Sikalinda.
“The measure is also meant to reduce human animal conflict around the border area where truck accidents have been recorded.” The Chronicle