Katima Mulilo-Namibian truck drivers who were detained by Zambia authorities for six months on allegations that they illegally transported mukula – a protected tree species – have vowed to never transport mukula timber through Zambia ever again after the horrid experience they endured at the hands of Zambian officials.
Zambian authorities on Monday started releasing Namibian and trucks from other countries in batches of hundreds, which were detained in that country between January and February.
They were recently cleared of not been involved in the illegal transportation of mukula timber from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The trucks were released after President Hage Geingob personally took up the matter with his Zambian counterpart Edgar Lungu following an outcry over the seizure of about 400 trucks. Speaking to New Era one of the drivers, who was detained in Zambia for about four months, including spending two nights behind bars without blankets, water and food vowed to never return to Zambia if it meant transporting mukula again.
“Return to Zambia for transporting mukula never. Other stuff, yes I can return but I will never transport mukula again,” he said.
The driver who did not want to be named also revealed to New Era that he had not seen his family in about four months.
As of yesterday, the Zambian authorities had released about 112 Namibian trucks through the Wenela Border Post.
The trucks had now entered Namibia, but reports indicated more of them would be released today and were apparently in transit by the time of going to print.
Despite them entering Namibia, some of the trucks were still parked in various places in Katima Mulilo.
most of them had run out of fuel, and truck owners were still looking for funds to fuel them before they could proceed to Walvis Bay.
“Right now, I don’t even have money to give the drivers something to buy food, as you overhead me asking for money over the phone,” Ronald Shangoya one of the truck-owners said when approached for comment.
“I am trying to contact my Chinese client to help me get the money to fuel the trucks,” he added.