Western Province Permanent Secretary (PS) Sibanze Simuchoba says he is disappointed with the current illegal harvesting and trading of timber that has rocked the province.
Mr. Simuchoba who is new in Western Province taking over from Mr. Mwangala Liomba said government and the local communities in the province have continued losing out on income and revenue that could be realised from proper harvesting and trading of timber.
Addressing civil servants in Sioma district who brought the issue of illegal timber exploitation in the area to his attention, the PS assured them that the matter will not rest until a lasting solution is found.
Meanwhile, the PS also implored the Sioma administrators and community members to also find a way of combating the vice that has hit the newly created district.
Mr. Simuchoba said it is redundant for civil servants and council authorities to be in the forefront complaining to government because they themselves are also government and should be the ones to formulate a plan to curb the vice.
Speaking earlier at the gathering, Sioma District Council Chairperson Sililo Mumbula lamented to the Permanent Secretary over what he termed as unscrupulous timber traders who are cutting down trees anyhow and allegedly selling to some Chinese nationals.
“Permanent secretary sir, in a few years’ time probably 10 years from now, you will find that Sioma will definitely become a desert. Why? Because of these unscrupulous timber dealers who are cutting even very premature trees.
They have taken advantage of our friends the Chinese who have come. And I don’t know whether these Chinese are investors or what, I don’t know, but as far as I am concerned here in Sioma these are not investors.” Lamented Mr. Mumbula.
And Sioma District Commissioner, Maurice Litula said the district forestry authorities have been trying to put an end to the illegal timber activities but are incapacitated by challenges such as lack of transport.
Mr. Litula however, acknowledged that government is losing out a lot of money as a result of illegalities surrounding the timber industry in the district.
And during an onsite check at one of the timber processing centres owned by a Chinese national, the PS found timber logs being loaded on a Namibian Registered Truck.
When he inquired from the director of the processing centre over why a foreign truck was being loaded with Timber despite an export ban being in effect, the
director said the truck was not destined for Namibia but was simply ferrying the logs to Livingstone.
But Mr. Simuchoba expressed surprise that in all the years he has been in Livingstone he has never seen any trucks deliver timber for further processing in the town especially the ones with Namibian registration plates.
Western Province is endowed with vast timber reserves and among them is the Zambezi Teak that was gravely exploited decades ago in Mulobezi district leaving the area vulnerable to environmental degradation and largely underdeveloped.