One of the drones, held here by ZRA's Topsy Sikalinda, which patrol smuggler routes. Source/BBC

One of the drones, held here by ZRA’s Topsy Sikalinda, which patrol smuggler routes. Source/BBC

 

How Zambia is using drones to ‘hunt down’ tax evaders

The Zambian Revenue Authority (GRA) is deploying drones to track illegal businesses who also evade taxes.

The tax authorities in Zambia said it has started using drone surveillance to track down lorries smuggling in goods to avoid customs duty.

Seven trucks were impounded by the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) in the north of the country over the weekend after drones spotted them hidden in the bush off the main road, reported the BBC.

“The drones go out on patrol on risky routes or complicated routes where our ground patrols or checkpoints have failed,” ZRA corporate communications manager Topsy Sikalinda told the BBC.

“On this particular operation, the drones went out on the Kapiri-Serenje route. They noticed that main road was empty and they picked up some activity about 14km [about nine miles] in the bush.”

One of the drones in action in ZambiaImage caption: One of the drones in action in Zambia

Vehicles travelling south along the road could be coming from neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi or Tanzania.

 Sikalinda explained that drivers often offload goods in the bush and then put them on smaller vehicles that are not likely to be suspected.

“We take it to be local trade hence they escape the tax net,” he said

ZRA hopes to raise more revenue through the use of such technology, the tax official

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