The Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources has confirmed that the Toyota Hilux Registration number GRZ 196 CA which was photographed laden with charcoal in Ndola along Nkana road just after the Golf Club is a government vehicle.
Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources Public Relations Officer Diniwe Zulu explained that the vehicle which was en-route to the District Forestry Office is a government utility vehicle assigned to the Forestry Department for forest operations.
Ms. Zulu stated that the Ministry sought to clarify the matter as it has been highly published on social media.
She explained in a statement released to ZANIS in Lusaka yesterday, that the vehicle was being driven by a Forestry Officer based at Ndola office who has a government competence driving license and was on routine forest patrols in Ndola’s industrial area.
Ms. Zulu stated that during the patrol, the officers came across illegal charcoal producers who were moving illegally produced charcoal to Masala for sale and as empowered by the Forests Act No.4 of 2015, the officers apprehended the offenders, impounded the charcoal and loaded the produce in the vehicle to take to the forest station at Dola Hill.
She further observed that the officers were performing their duties and the vehicle was being used for the function it has been allocated.
Ms. Zulu indicated that it is important to note that sometimes officers are left with no option but to use the available vehicles during operations due to the high rates of illegal forest activities that are happening especially with regard to illegal charcoal and timber exploitation.
She however stated that the Ministry will endeavor to procure appropriate vehicles such as trucks for such operations.