…foreign firms, mines externalising profits
By Bennie Mundando
GOVERNMENT is losing millions of Kwacha through diversion of revenue where multinational logistics companies are conniving with mining firms in Zambia to transport copper and externalise huge profits, the Petroleum Transporters Association of Zambia (PTAZ) has charged.
PTAZ secretary-general Benson Tembo said there was a syndicate between mines and international logistics companies registered in Zambia which excluded local transporters whom they relegated to third parties to contracts on the mines.
Mr. Tembo said local transporters that were moving material such as copper, sulphuric acid, lime to exit points in Namibia, Tanzania and South Africa were paying over US$2,000 as registration to logistics companies to be eligible for sub-contracts on the mines.
He explained that huge payments for all transportation contracts by the mines were directly made to such companies’ head offices either in South Africa or Europe and that the logistics companies then paid Zambian contractors peanuts after doing the job.
“For any Zambian transporter to be considered for a contract with the mines, they have to pay over US$2000 to international logistics companies for registration. We don’t understand why we have to pay registration to logistics companies when we used to directly deal with the mines in the past. This is mandatory. If you don’t pay, you will never get a contract from the mines.
“When the job is done by the local transporter who provides trucks, manpower, and incur toll fees and related expenses, the mining company then pays money directly to the logistics company at the head office outside Zambia. The logistics company then pays peanuts to a Zambian transporter thereby making a fortune out of our work,” Mr. Tembo complained.
He said while transporters were subjected to all sorts of taxes, logistic companies went scot-free by evading all forms of taxation which could have improved the revenue base for Zambia.
Mr. Tembo said the inertia from relevant authorities to investigate all the sinister activities that the mining companies in collusion with their international counterparts which eluded the much-needed revenue was counter-productive.
“We want Government to explore these areas to maximise on revenue collection. If Governmnet will leave these other areas of operations the way they are, the foreign nationals will continue reaping the benefits from the mines instead of the Zambian Government. In the past, mines were advertising in the press for such tenders and transporters were bidding directly to the mines but what has changed?
“There is too much inertia in the Ministry of Transport and ZRA because this is revenue that is being diverted and we are watching. Why are the mines engaging their fellow nationals to come and get contracts from Zambians when they can easily contract Zambians directly?” Mr. Tembo asked.