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Zambia runs dry as truck strike drags on

A liquid bulk transporter this morning confirmed that the wildcat strike in Zambia’s logistics sector had resulted in no movement of local fuel tankers.

The anonymous source added that tankers were also not offloading at Tazama in Ndola, the 1 710-kilometre Tanzania-Zambia Crude Oil Pipeline that links the capital of Zambia’s Copperbelt Province with the Port of Dar es Salaam.

The update about the illegal industrial action over wage increases follows a report by the Transit Assistance Bureau (Transist) yesterday that Zambia’s defence force was escorting fuel tankers to delivery.

A Transist member commented: “This is due to threats of burning trucks and necklacing drivers by locals.”

Yesterday the strike also resulted in sporadic incidents of public violence, affecting even quieter border transits such as Zambia’s crossing west of Sesheke across the Zambezi to Katima Mulilo into Namibia.

Zambia’s Chinanda border crossing into Mozambique north of Casscatiza was also completely closed, although it could not be confirmed whether it was related to the strike.

Transist also posted a press statement issued by Zambia’s Energy Regulation Board (ERB).

In the statement the board’s manager of public relations, Kwali Mfuni, said: “The ERB regrets disruption in the supply of fuel that has been reported in some parts of the country.

“The disruption in the supply of fuel in some parts of the country has been caused by industrial action taken by an organisation purportedly representing truck drivers.”

Despite reports stating the pumps are running dry in Zambia, an important transit country on the North-South Corridor (NSC) to mining areas in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the ERB claims there is adequate stock of petroleum products in the country.

It confirmed though that supplies had been affected in some parts of the country, and that certain transporters could not meet their delivery requirements.

The board added that “from preliminary findings the ERB has observed that some tankers carrying imported fuel were not able to cross the borders into Zambia, while other tankers were parked for safety reasons.

“In view of the challenges experienced, measures have since been put in place to provide security escorts for petroleum tankers to ensure safe delivery of fuel to different parts of the country.”

Zambia is not the first country on the NSC this month to be forced to resort to security escorts for transporters.

Recently it was reported that Zimbabwe, currently in the group of collapsing economies with widespread food shortages, had instructed transporters carrying genetically modified (GM) maize to proceed with security escorts once they had crossed the border.

The escorts were intended to prevent GM contamination in the event of assailants attacking trucks to steal maize and causing food spillage.

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