Lack of border patrols fueling smuggling

Failure by security forces to conduct border patrols in Ntcheu is fueling smuggling of items such as cooking oil from Mozambique which borders the district.

Tsangano, a Mozambican district, shares boundary with Ntcheu, a Malawian district. This has led to some local traders to use uncharted ways to smuggle wheat flour, cooking oil, beer and soft drinks among others.

Smuggled Cooking oil at Tsangano

One of the shop owners in the area Chikondi Kamusiyeni said they take advantage of lack of police and Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) patrols to evade tax.

“Running business in Malawi is difficult because most of the policies do not support local companies. As such most products from local companies are expensive. This is why we take advantage of lack of patrols to bring in consignment through Tsangano at reasonable amount to make profits,” he said.

A trader, Mary Nandolo, said it is easy to smuggle products through Tsangano because the two countries share boundary.

“A yard away you are in Mozambique and another yard back in Malawi. People tend to run to the Mozambican side to evade police and MRA officers. This is because of the complex nature of the boundary which we share with Mozambique. As such most of the traders whether small or medium scale opt to use Tsangano to connect to Blantyre or Lilongwe and other areas,” she said.

A trader from Balaka District Tamandani Bayisoni said he orders items such as wheat flour, cooking oil and carbonated drinks in bulkS at Tsangano.

“If I am to make profits I have to smuggle products. We can’t make profits if we buy from local manufacturing companies. Like in the case of flour and cooking oil, these products are now expensive because the government introduced VAT. When flour and oil prices went up because of VAT most of the local traders simply shifted the goalposts. You can’t buy expensive consignment in Malawi when you can relatively smuggle same products at a reasonable price,” he said.

The development comes after a fortnight when we also uncovered rampant smuggling happening through Mulanje.

Our investigations showed that smugglers were using bikes, motor cycles (commonly known as Kabaza) and cars to ship in their goods through uncharted ways.

The smugglers used routes in Mulanje Bale constituency in Village Mwachokola, Traditional Authority Mabuka to connect to New Port along the Ruo River.

Recently, Ministry of Trade, disclosed plans to deploy Malawi Defence Force (MDF) soldiers in the country’s borders to curtail smuggling of goods into the country.