Site icon The Times Group Malawi

Smuggling soars at Mchinji border post

Some cross-border traders in Mchinji have confessed that they are forced to smuggle products from neighbouring Zambia to make huge profits, claiming that local products are expensive because of the Value Added Tax (Vat).

It has been established that some goods like maize flour, cooking oil and cigarettes are being smuggled into the country at an alarming rate.

In Mchinji, there is a route which has been dubbed Zalewa and most traders use it when illegally importing goods.

According to our investigations, these goods are being smuggled from Zambia into the country using the unchartered routes by traders who use bicycle taxis known as kabaza.

One of the cross border trader, Willard Pendeka, has faulted Vat as one of the factors that influences them to avoid using the border posts opting for unchartered routes.

Pendeka lamented that Vat is expensive which results in their not making meaningful profits as expected, hence opting for unchartered routes.

“Sometimes you see that you will make no money if you don’t bring your merchandise on the border posts, you just proceed using the unchartered routes so that you find something. This Vat thing leaves a lot to be desired, we can’t make profits with it, unless government reduces it,” he said.

However, one of the traders, who spoke on condition of anonymity, admitted that it was risky to smuggle items as sometimes they have to pay fines when they are caught by the authorities.

Zambia banned maize flour export to other countries like Malawi, a development which is forcing some Zambian traders to sell the product illegally to Malawians, hence using the unchartered routes.

One of the senior officials from the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) in the district who opted for anonymity said, in an interview, that smuggling by using unchartered routs at the border is at 60 percent.

The source said this is contributing to their failure to realise revenue targets which the government sets.

MRA Head of Corporate Affairs, Steven Kapoloma, said in 2010 Malawi launched the Simplified Trade Regime (STR) through its Mchinji– Chipata (Mwami) border under the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) with an aim of promoting and simplifying life for cross-border trade.

Kapoloma further said the Malawian side has got problems in the use of the STR due to processing fee which people run away from and also said that a general lack of knowledge on using border posts and STR.

“We are aware that smuggling is taking place at the border post and of course in various areas in the country, so we have introduced the Anti- Smuggling Department to look into these issues and there is a vehicle there, special for patrol within the border perimeter.

Facebook Notice for EU! You need to login to view and post FB Comments!
Exit mobile version