By CHUSA SICHONE –
TEN trucks laden with illegal timber estimated to be worth between K30, 000 and K40,000 have been intercepted in Lusaka.
This followed an operation led by Lands, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Permanent Secretary In’utu Suuba.
Lands, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Minister Harry Kalaba has since directed the Forestry Department to obtain a court order which will guide on how best to dispose of the timber and some bags of charcoal which were intercepted.
Acting Forestry director Ignatius Makumba said in Lusaka on Wednesday that the 10 trucks were impounded in an operation conducted last week between Friday evening and Saturday morning.
Mr Makumba said the trucks were impounded as the timber traders and truck drivers had breached the Forestry Act by not having the production and conveyance permits.
He said the patrol was conducted on four highways leading into Lusaka which included Mumbwa Road, Kafue Road, Great North Road and Great East Road.
The intercepted trucks were coming from Luangwa District.
Mr Makumba said it had been discovered that the Chinese timber merchants who were buying the timber were based in Chinika area and along Mumbwa Road in Lusaka.
Addressing the affected timber traders and truck drivers at the Forestry Department headquarters in Lusaka on Wednesday, Mr Kalaba said the indiscriminate cutting down of trees would not be condoned.
He warned the Chinese nationals buying illegal timber that they risked being arrested if they continued engaging in such activities.
He urged the Forestry Department to partner with the Road Transport and Safety Agency, Zambia Police and Zambia Wildlife Authority to arrest the situation.
Some timber traders said efforts to obtain permits had failed as Forestry officers in Chongwe and Rufunsa districts had allegedly given them many conditions.