•   Costas Const/los   14 Mar 11:56

    Published On March 6, 2016 » 993 Views» By Bennet Simbeye » Uncategorized

    By STEVEN ZANDE -TWENTY-EIGHT trucks, each laden with 1,200 bags of maize worth US$270,000, have been intercepted and are marooned at Mwami Border in Eastern Province.The trucks that did not have export permits have been marooned for three weeks.

    . LUBINDA

    . LUBINDA

    The development was brought to light yesterday when Agriculture Minister Given Lubinda visited the border post after being alerted by the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) officials.The border’s station manager Rector Muhau said the trucks belonging to a company known as NWK Commodities were impounded after failure by the drivers to produce valid documentation to allow them transport the commodity across to Malawi.He said last year, Government classified maize as a controlled commodity, meaning any export of the commodity had to be accompanied by an export permit that was given by the Ministry of Agriculture.Mr Lubinda said it was unfortunate that, while Government provided maize to millers for local consumption, some millers were exporting some of that maize.He said that Government would not allow illegal maize and mealie-meal exports at the expense of the Zambian people.Mr Lubinda said that any miller found exporting the commodity to neighboring countries risked having their contract terminated and faced a two-year blacklist.“We don’t want to see the price of mealie-meal go beyond the reach of Zambians because people are exporting the commodity to neighboring countries at exorbitant prices,” he said.The team, which comprised ZRA boss Berlin Msiska, Food Reserve Agency (FRA) chief executive officer, Chola Kafwabulula and other Government officials also inspected a warehouse licensed under cement trade but packed with more than 400 bags of the Champion brand mealie-meal.Documentation, which was recovered after the owner failed to show up when he was summoned, indicated that the maize had already been sold in Malawian Kwacha and was just awaiting transportation into Malawi.Mr Lubinda instructed the Eastern Province administrative structures through Permanent Secretary Chanda Kasolo to ensure that the impounded maize did not leave the border until investigations were concluded.He said that it was unacceptable that mealie-meal from Lusaka could be transported to Mwami when Petauke, Chipata and Katete, were among other places that were experiencing a shortage of the commodity.Mr Lubinda said Cabinet would today table the matter to determine if there was need to readjust the policy governing maize export.Paramount Chief Mpezeni of the Ngoni speaking people said Government should ban the export of maize by some traders who were in the practice of exporting the commodity at the expense of the local population.