Fuel smuggling continues unabated, with Angolan children now brazenly selling all over the town in Oshikango while others trade from under the trees near the town and slip back into Angola as soon as they spot the police.
Young girls and boys as young as 13 crisscross the porous borders between Namibia and Angola through ungazetted points to capitalise on the enormous illegal fuel market.
Their customer base seems to grow daily.
Angolans sell five to 25-litre containers of petrol at a much cheaper price than the current price of petrol in Namibia, which contravenes the Petroleum Products and Energy Act.
Only licensed fuel dealers are allowed to import petroleum products.
Ohangwena motorists often travel to nearby Angolan service stations and pay around N$3.80 per litre in Angola.
The smugglers’ standard price for 5 litres is N$40, and 25 litres are sold for N$280.
Namibians pay over N$15 per litre at service stations.
Motorists in the area often stock up several
25 litres of petrol at their houses so that they fill their vehicles when they need petrol.
Last year, the Ministry of Mines and Energy with the Namibia police have been engaging the community to address the issue of such illegal activities but the situation remains the same.
On Wednesday, when New Era spoke to some of the fuel sellers at Oshikango, they described Oshikango as the best town to sell petrol because there are many customers, especially taxi drivers.
They said, even though they are regularly chased away by the police, they will not stop them from smuggling fuel because the business is going well.
Petroleum commissioner in the Ministry of Mines and Energy Maggy Shino said the ministry is concerned about the rapid growth of Angolans smuggling fuel at Oshikango.
Shino told New Era the ministry does not have the power to arrest those smuggling fuel but it is the duty of the police to make sure such an illegal activity does not take place.
“The police should do their work accordingly to arrest those who are selling fuel illegally and the buyers should also be arrested,” she said.
She stressed that the people who are selling fuel illegally do not pay tax, which is very unfair because they are not contributing anything to the development of this country.
She added that more effort is required to resolve this pressing challenge.
Police regional spokesperson Kaume Itumba said the police have been trying its best to patrol Oshikango town but Angolans are still coming in big numbers to sell petrol illegally, which is a massive challenge for the police.
He said the border has many open spaces for Angolans to pass through.
Itumba said many resources are required to bring the situation under control.
“We managed to confiscate lots of bottles of petrol, which are currently stored at Oshikango police station,” he said.
Itumba warned that illegal sellers and buyers of fuel will be arrested.
He urged the community to work with the police to fight against illegal activities.
“I am, therefore, urging people to stop buying smuggled fuel because it is unfair, especially to the business people who own the service stations in the country, as they are no longer receiving customers for fuel,” she stated.