Police yesterday intercepted and impounded 17 trucks in Chitipa and arrested their drivers on suspicion of smuggling about 270 tonnes of maize to neighbouring Zambia and Tanzania.
Police said they believe there is a syndicate to externalise the country’s maize and that the 17 trucks were part of the fleet being used to transport maize from Lilongwe and Blantyre to Chitipa and Karonga which have porous borders.
Northern Region Police spokesperson Peter Kalaya on Sunday confirmed that the 17 trucks had been intercepted.
He said the trucks, loaded with bags of maize, were intercepted on Sunday morning in Chitipa.
Kalaya said the traders are using Karonga and Chitipa to smuggle maize and police believe there is a syndicate of Malawians and foreigners who are smuggling the maize.
He said: “We have impounded the 17 trucks carrying white maize and we are questioning the drivers on suspicion that they were trying to export it illegally.
“A lot of trucks have been going to Chitipa and Karong with maize we believe is transported from Lilongwe and Blantyre, but the market is very small in these districts.”
According to Kalaya, the drivers arrested will likely be charged with illegal exportation and that investigations are underway to arrest more.
Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Principal Secretary Erica Maganga said she was not aware of the impounded trucks and she needed to check with Karonga Agricultural Development Division (Kradd).
Ministry of Trade, Industry and Tourism spokesperson Wiskes Mkombezi said maize exports are prohibited and those caught will face the law. n