Cabinet gives timber export green light

11 December 2019 | Government

Cabinet has endorsed the disposal of already harvested timber from the two Kavango regions and Zambezi through both local and international markets “with immediate effect”.

“This decision was taken on the basis of the outcry by affected communities and the fact that the timber in question may deteriorate if not timeously disposed of,” cabinet said on Monday

This comes just a month after President Hage Geingob announced publicaly at a Swapo rally in Rundu that farmers can sell their already harvested timber wherever they can.

At the time, timber harvesters were only allowed to sell their logs locally, with strict conditions imposed.

Geingob's words were perceived by some as an election ploy to attract votes among the affected timber harvesters ahead of the 27 November general election. The harvesters were frustrated and aggrieved by the fact that logs were rotting at their farms.

Since a moratorium was placed on timber activities last November, farmers have been crying foul that they were heavily in debt, as some of them could no longer pay their bonds and workers.

Following Monday's cabinet decision, forestry ministry executive director Percy Misika issued a media release explaining the conditions under which timber activities should be conducted.

Misika explained that local timber manufacturers will be given first priority to buy the already harvested timber and farmers will only be allowed to export their surplus logs.

Misika stressed that no fresh trees should be harvested and that all logs should be loaded in the presence of forestry and environment officials.

“Both processed and unprocessed timber may be exported from Namibia to any destination,” Misika said.

The lifting of the moratorium comes at a time when containers of timber have been standing idle at Walvis Bay.

“Timber at Walvis Bay will be allowed to be exported if all documentation are in order, that is if the information on the transportation permit and that on the harvesting permit is consistent,” Misika said.

He stressed any timber at Walvis Bay that does not have proper documentation, and for which police cases have been opened, will not be exported, but will be confiscated and disposed of by government through public auctions.

Misika said further that the loading of timber should be done strictly during day, with no timber being loaded at night.

Forestry officials will be deployed at various checkpoints and have the right to stop any vehicle loaded with timber and request to examine the appropriate documents.

Misika said timber coming from other countries can be processed in Namibia or be in transit through the country, under close supervision.

KENYA KAMBOWE

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