Windhoek-The Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) and a representative group of the truckers that were stuck in Zambia when their trucks were impounded, said they learned with “shock” about a planned demonstration and meeting on Friday evening in Walvis Bay.
Apparently, the demonstration was organised by unknown parties to protest the interventions that led to the release of some of the impounded Namibian trucks.
“Such an action is counter-progressive at a time when the government is working flat out to address economic challenges facing the country. Thus, both the impounded truckers and NCCI distance themselves from such a move” read a statement by acting NCCI CEO Charity Mwiya.
The notice to truck owners appeared in coastal newspapers and presented a meeting agenda that included, among others, “the detention” of Namibian truck drivers in Zambia after a planned demonstration. The NCCI and a spokesman for truckers’, Jaques Steenkamp, said such a demonstration would not be the best way to address the issues on the agenda.
“An engagement structure to review and address the aftermath of the impounded truckers and other related issues pertaining to regional trade and integration, the corridors development and the truckers’ concerns is already in place. These and other strategic efforts to support corridor users and their clients will thus be addressed by the NCCI through the already established structures comprising of the relevant stakeholders from government through the relevant line ministries, government agencies, the Walvis Bay Corridor Group, Namport and the Namibia Trade Forum, among others.
“Once all our trucks and drivers are released and all are back home, a report and briefing will be carried out to the Head of State and government and a joint media briefing by all supporting parties in this matter will be held,” Mwiya said.
She added that during the impounding of the Namibian trucks over the past five months, tremendous efforts were made to intervene, with the support of relevant bodies – such as the ministries of international relations and works and transport, the Roads Authority, as well as financial institutions – and went right up to the executive intervention of President Geingob.
The NCCI and affected truckers therefore said they could not at this stage condone any actions by any party claiming to be acting on behalf of the truckers that could jeopardise the good intentions and relations with all the support partners in this unfortunate situation.
“As a representative body for businesses in Namibia, these excellent relations with the government and stakeholders that have been longstanding remain invaluable to the Chamber and its members. The NCCI in particular cannot therefore be party to an agenda that does not appreciate the importance of peaceful engagements with stakeholders on such crucial matters, neither do we recognise any opportunists who wish to come to the party after a bitter and distressful journey to the release of our trucks.
“This journey took tremendous sacrifices, more often late hours of work, financial and personal commitments, [with] all for the noble intentions of realising the release of our trucks, of mitigating the risks of further business closures and minimising job losses,” Mwiya continued.
Of the 37 Namibian trucks that were impounded, only six are yet to be released. Two of the trucks are still impounded at Mumbwa checkpoint, one at Kalomo and three at Sesheke border.
As of last Monday, June 26, of the 30 released trucks, 14 crossed into Namibia after the routine procedural paperwork at the border. The other 16 released trucks are still at the Sesheke border in Zambia and must still complete the necessary paper work.
“The reason for the further impounding of the six remaining trucks is unknown. It remains a mystery as to why someone with five trucks, for example, under the same company, having loaded the same product at the same location, for the same client in China and all under the same documents, would have three of his trucks released and two still being impounded!
“The NCCI has informed the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister of this development accordingly. We have further engaged the Zambian High Commission and the response we keep getting is that they have informed the relevant authorities and the matter is being investigated,” Mwiya remarked.