Two Chinese nationals who came in the country under the pretext that they wanted to open a tobacco factory in Lilongwe are now involved in illegal exportation of round wood, The Daily Times can reveal.
The two, only identified as Oliver and Henry are operating the illegal clandestine deal behind a building along Bunda road where over a dozen labourers have been hired to prepare the wood before exportation to Shanghai in China.
Inside sources who are also part of the secret dealings confided to this paper that the wood is mostly sourced from Zambia, Mozambique and Malawi adding that the country is used as a conduit and a place to prepare the wood before transporting it overseas.
In an interview yesterday Oliver denied any knowledge and involvement in the prohibited business.
Said Oliver, “I don’t know anything of what you are asking me, who gave you my number? Why do you want to write this story, I will tell my lawyer to call you.”
He explained that he is in the country to open a tobacco factory together with some business associates who he could not mention. He also refused to comment on whether he has a business permit to work in the country.
Our visit to the site yesterday found the labourers who are from within the area working on the wood.
“There are 15 of us who prepare this wood. We receive K700 per log and in a day we peel- off at least 10 logs each,” said one worker who refused to be named.
When it was put to them that the work they were doing was illegal the workers said they were doing it for their own survival.
“We don’t go out there and cut down trees, the wood is brought by some Chinese nationals who want it prepared and we are only offering our services so we can feed our families,” said the worker. the workers also disclosed that during the last three months they have worked on over 1,000 logs which were reportedly shipped to China.
Lilongwe police Spokesperson Kingsley Dandaula confirmed that some well-wishers tipped off the police about the issue.
“Most times when we receive such information we make sure to follow it up and confiscate the wood. We will investigate and make sure that the culprits are apprehended,” said Dandaula.
On his part, Chairperson of Parliamentary committee on Natural Resources and Environment Werani Chilenga expressed disappointment over what he said is a “lay back attitude”.
“As a committee we presented our report to Parliament and it was adopted but government has said nothing. We even named the companies in China where the wood is exported, as well as names of individuals convicted of this illegal business but there is no action on the part of government. We really are disappointed as a committee with how government is handling issues of illegal timber exportation,” said Chilenga.
In February this year government issued a ban on export of timber saying anyone found exporting raw hard round wood would be prosecuted according to the country’s relevant laws.
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