Poultry smuggling rampant at Oshikango

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Nuusita Ashipala

Oshikango-Angolan business people have taken advantage of high poultry prices in Namibia by smuggling boxes of frozen chicken via Oshikango border post that they sell here cheaply.

Some of the chickens are sold to Namibians at Okatwitwi informal market in Namibia, where business is booming. In addition to the chicken sales, there is also an ongoing sale of contraband products, including cheap alcohol and spirits.

A box of 20 kg of chicken from Angola sells for N$250 compared to a 10 kg box that Namibian retailers sell for N$400. The chicken sales are done secretively at the border town, where sellers only present the boxes to their customers once they have agreed to buy and once money changes hands.

When approaching the open market there is no sight of the chicken boxes, but once an agreement has been reached, the box is fetched and brought to the customer wrapped in a cloth. It is not business as usual for the vendor and throughout these transactions they seem not to be at ease as they keep looking around nevously.

Chief veterinary officer in the Ministry of Water Agriculture and Forestry in the directorate of veterinary services Adrianatus Maseke confirmed that Namibia does not have a standing agreement with Angola to import poultry.
“We are not allowed to, and chicken has to come in with import permits and we do not really import chickens from Angola. So, anything that is coming in there without a permit is an illegal import and must be reported to the authorities,” said Maseke.

He said the illegal import of chickens puts the country at risk of the Newcastle disease that last year decimated many chickens in the north and in other parts of the country. However, Maseke said the directorate would need more information to confidently express itself on the issue, such as information on where the chickens are coming from.

“I cannot really express myself on the matter, because we would need more information on the issue,” Maseke said.
In addition to the illegal import of chicken, Angolans have also entered into the sale of common groceries, such as pasta, rice, cooking oil sugar and fruit, among other things. The sales of the groceries have further extended to Ondangwa and Ongwediva, with women selling the goods door-to-door.

In the meantime, Namibia has since amended the suspension of poultry imports from South Africa on set conditions put in place. The ban was initially prompted by an outbreak of avian flu in South Africa in May 2017,a condition that is highly fatal to chickens.

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