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Fuel smuggling difficult to eradicate

Fuel smuggling difficult to eradicate

Staff Reporter

FUEL smuggling from Angola to Namibia through the northern borders in the Ohangwena and Omusati regions remains a serious problem that not only presents economic challenges for the country, but also often puts ill-equipped border guards in life-threatening situations.

These concerns were raised by the Ministry of Mines and Energy’s Deputy Director of Petroleum, Carlo McLeod, during the ministry’s three-day stakeholder engagement.

He explained that fuel smuggling – which is particularly prevalent in the Ohangwena Region, given its close proximity to the fuel stations in Angola’s Santa Clara – is difficult to eradicate due to “the state of our borders”.

This was discovered by members of the ministry, the Office of the President and the Namibia Revenue Agency (NamRa), after they undertook a mission between 10 and 16 July to investigate the severity of the problem. The mission found that certain parts along the border had no delineated fences and there were traditional homesteads located near the border. According to McLeod, some of the homesteads are used for storage of the smuggled fuel.

While identifying taxi drivers as the main culprits, McLeod also revealed that it is suspected that law enforcement from both countries are also involved in the illegal smuggling of fuel across the borders.

The situation, he said, is worsened by the fact that border guards do not only lack the necessary equipment, but most of them are also aged. According to him, this makes it difficult for them to keep up – let alone apprehend – the fuel smugglers.

McLeod therefore suggested that there is a need to empower border guards by providing the necessary equipment such as radios, quad bikes and surveillance gear, among others. Besides this, he emphasised that there is also a need to recruit young border guards who will be able to keep up with the culprits.

To further strengthen capacity along the border line, McLeod recommended the deployment of police officers from other regions. He directed this recommendation to the Ministry of Home Affairs, Immigration, Safety and Security.

McLeod also called for the adjustment of fines and sentences with regards to fuel smuggling to deter culprits. He added that the government should also make efforts to resolve the issue, with the collaboration of stakeholders.

Furthermore, he urged political leaders to work with their Angolan counterparts to bring about a meaningful and tangible solution to the problem.

File photo for illustrative purposes only. Photos: Contributed

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