By BENNIE MUNDANDO
SOME timber traders risk being sued for breach of contracts in damages following the ban on harvesting and conveyancing of Mukula and other timber species, the Zambia National Association of Sawmillers (ZNAS) has observed.
Last month, Government extended the ban on Mukula export to all timber products as a way of curbing the ravaging of the high-priced species as some unscrupulous businessmen illegally exported the commodity camouflaged as ordinary timber.
Announcing the total ban, Minister of Lands Jean Kapata said Government had decided to extend the ban to all timber species in the country but that it would allow concession licensees to continue operating and supplying timber to the local market. Ms. Kapata said the decision was part of measures to curb the illegal harvesting, transportation and trade in Mukula tree and that the move was meant to empower local people and ensure sustainability of the local industry.
But speaking to the Daily Nation yesterday, ZNAS president William Bwalya said the timber sector was under immense pressure as the players faced a forbidding future following Government’s decision to ban timber export.
Mr. Bwalya said most players in the sector would be forced out of business owing to the decision as they would not be able to supply the international market over licences that were issued long before the ban was effected.