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Government yet to value confiscated round wood

Government’s forestry auditors are yet to come up with the monetary value of the 30,519 mikula round logs which were confiscated from various illegal traders across the country, hence the delay in disposing them of.

The delay, however, is raising concern among environmental experts that the country could be losing a lot of millions as the wood continues to deteriorate in the various spots which they are being kept.

In Malawi, it is illegal to export any unprocessed forest resource including the mikula logs which are usually smuggled to China for making gun handles among other uses.

Some of the places with piles of such wood are Chitipa, Karonga and Dedza.

“It is a serious concern that the Ministry of Natural Resources has not found the real way of disposing of those logs. As a country, we are losing our treasures in various circumstances which we should not condone,” said Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources Welani Chilenga recently.

Chilenga said: “The committee played a very crucial role to ensure tens of trucks carrying the wood to overseas through Tanzania are impounded but here we are the Ministry of Natural Resources is yet to find the real way of disposing them for the benefit of the country.”

He further disclosed that the committee has reports of Malawians, Traffic and Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) officers who aid the unscrupulous trade of forest products.

But Director of Forests in the Forestry Department Clement Chilima said in an emailed response over the weekend that a taskforce was formed to spearhead the disposal process by ensuring that the mikula logs do not make it back to the illegal market.

Said Chilima: “Mikula logs are a sensitive item, last time I checked the task force was looking at potential markets within and beyond, so depending on that we would come up with the monetary value of the round wood.”

He said that some of the logs belong to Zambia and Mozambique and that upon completion of evidence of origin, the department will be facilitating their repatriation in consultation with counterparts from the two neighbouring countries.

“Some logs are still a subject of court proceedings and may not be disposed of until the court cases have been concluded,” he said.

Meanwhile, Parliament has recommended to the line department to consider making a provision in the new Forest Act where all impounded vehicles with forest products should be converted into government property.

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