Veep, Trade minister visit new Mchinji border station, vow to squeeze smugglers

Government has vowed to deploy all its security apparatus to directly deal with smuggling, once and for all.

BY HENRY MCHAZIME

Government has vowed to deploy all its security apparatus to directly deal with smuggling, once and for all.

This was sternly pronounced by the Vice President, Right Honourable Dr Saulos Klaus Chilima and the Minister of Trade, Honourable Sosten Gwengwe on Tuesday 1st June, 2021 during an official visit at Mchinji One Stop Border Post (OSBP).

In his welcome remarks, the Minister of Trade said much as the One Stop Border Post brings with it glamour and all the required features of modern public service, smuggling remains a huge challenge in the country.

Construction of the new structure is now complete and what remains is furnishing and installation of all necessary equipment to fully operationalise it.

“Right Honourable Vice President, I would like to appeal for more effective operations between the Police, Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) and Immigration Services to end smuggling as this is both an economic challenge and a major security threat.

“We must end smuggling and we must end it now not later. I feel it is high time that Government considers bringing in the Malawi Defence Force (MDF) to assist all the mentioned bodied to quell the situation,” Honourable Gwengwe said after touring the new facility to an audience comprising staff from MRA, Police, Immigration, Roads Authority, the Office of the Vice President and Ministry of Trade.

In his address the Vice President urged MRA to ensure that the new facilities are well looked after while emphasising that the new station must be ready before December 2021. 

“Congratulations to the Ministry of Trade as the facilities are really yours and to MRA for being assigned the task to manage the facility. What you should be looking for is to manage it at a fee, if the others that will come will be paid fees why not you? Because you are MRA we shouldn’t short-change you,” he said, while advising all stakeholders to put the facility to good use.

Briefing the press, the Vice President said it is indeed high time that all measures to halt the illicit practice of smuggling are used jointly by security agencies including bringing in MDF, while also effecting sustainable community engagement initiatives that enlighten citizens to be patriotic since smuggling robs the nation of resources that can be used for development.

Speaking earlier, MRA Commissioner General, Mr John Biziwick said OSBP is a key modernisation initiative whose objective is to facilitate legitimate trade by reducing time for processing of imports and exports between Malawi and Zambia.

“The One Stop Border Post is a key modernisation initiative whose objective is to facilitate legitimate trade by reducing time for processing of imports and exports between Malawi and Zambia.

“One of the major challenges that necessitated the One Stop Border Post initiative here in Mchinji is the duplication of activities in the clearance of imports and exports between Malawi and Zambia. Importers have to stop on the Zambia side and complete all Customs and Immigration processes before coming here and repeat the same cycle of processes. This status causes delays in the border clearance of both goods and people,” the Commissioner General said.

He added that the One Stop Border Post will streamline clearance processes thereby shortening the clearance time, reduce opportunities for illegal practices and improve service delivery.

“The new facilities that we have now, will bring together various border agencies in one modern structure. These include Customs, Immigration, Malawi Bureau of Standard (MBS), the Ministry of Agriculture and other Government agencies from both Malawi and Zambia, with the aim of facilitating legitimate trade,” he said.

On managing the new facility, the Commissioner General said much as it is a huge task and MRA is grateful to have been entrusted with the responsibility.

“I commit before you and all stakeholders that MRA is very ready to take up this new role and ensure that these facilities are well taken care of, in a sustainable manner,” he said

The One Stop Border Post will also benefit other Government agencies and private companies like banks, insurance companies as well as Customs Clearing Agents, importers and exporters. Overall, the major beneficiaries in all this are Malawians who utilise the taxes that the Authority collects from the borders by accessing well-resourced public services and realise value from development programmes.

Construction of similar structures is underway at Dedza and Mwanza border stations. It is also expected that soon, similar construction works will commence at Songwe and later at Chiponde and Muloza borders.

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