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Police impound 17 trucks of suspected maize smugglers

Few weeks after The Daily Times reported of a possible syndicate smuggling maize out of the country through uncharted routes, police over the weekend have impounded 17 trucks in Chitipa following the lead.

Exporting maize remains a crime since an export ban which was placed a year and half ago due to severe drought and floods in different parts of the country is still in place.

Police spokesperson for the Northern Region Peter Kalaya said in an interview yesterday that the trucks which are owned by various Malawians are of 15 and 30 tonnage respectively, while the whole impounded white maize weighs about 270 tonnes.

He said none of the drivers had an export permit with them, and are currently in custody for questioning as police continue to establish the businesspersons behind the trade.

“We have been carrying out this special operation since Saturday; we hope to seal all the possible porous routes. There are several indicators that there is a syndicate of Malawians and foreigners involved in the illegal maize trade,” Kalaya said.

Kalaya further ruled out that the maize could be sold within Karonga and Chitipa as claimed by some of the suspects, arguing the market in the two districts is very small for such huge quantities of the grain.

“We ask relevant stakeholders like the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA), courts and local leaders not to leave the enforcement of the maize ban to us alone. There is need for concerted efforts,” he added.

Meanwhile he said police have intensified patrols and instituted additional roadblocks in order to track down smugglers.

Last month, The Daily Times’ investigation revealed that some people believed to be politically connected were smuggling maize to Kenya and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where there is huge demand and the grain is fetching better prices.

It is said that a 50 kilogrammes bag is selling at K18, 500 there as compared to around K12, 000 on the local market for the same quantity.

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