… security wings, Forestry Dept accused of illegal confiscation of timber

By Bennie Mundando

DETAILS have emerged on how security wings and the Forestry Department continued to indiscriminately confiscate legally harvested timber using the ban as an excuse even after the timber association wrote to them seeking clarity over their actions.

On June 9, 2017 Zambia National Association of Sawmillers (ZNAS) president William Bwalya wrote a letter to the Zambia Army commander to complain over the illegal confiscation of timber by the defence force wing.

Mr. Bwalya complained that the operations of the soldiers where they indiscriminately confiscated timber regardless of whether one had a concession licence or not was not only illegal but had suffocated the sector and appealed to the command to intervene.

“The members and others issued with licences are not operating because the military are impounding motor vehicles carrying any timber regardless of having valid documents allowing them production and conveyancing of the timber.

‘As a result, the Forestry Department have stopped issuing production and conveyancing licences to avoid its clients from clashing with the security personnel tasked to confiscate illegally harvested timber.

“Our members and others have lost huge investments as a result of work stoppages and seizure of timber by security services. We are facing litigation for failure to supply overseas clients with timber and demurrage fees to transporters who have lost business from having their trucks impounded,” Mr. Bwalya complained.

But speaking to the Daily Nation yesterday, Mr. Bwalya said the situation had remained the same as the petition they had presented to the army command had been ignored as the association was told that the army received commands from higher authorities and did not deal with civilians.

Mr Bwalya said the current situation had kicked a lot of players out of the business as what they had laboured for was being surrendered to the state without following any procedure and that the association’s call for help from authorities had fallen on deaf ears.

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