Making a killing

There is frantic logging activity in the northeastern regions as the deadline approaches for the suspension of timber transport and export permits.

29 March 2019 | Environment

A Namibian Sun investigation in Kavango, where it is alleged Chinese national Hou 'Josy' Xuecheng and others are continuing with logging, has revealed frenetic activity before transport and export permits expire this Sunday.

Hou has, however, again denied that he is continuing to harvest trees in the Kavango East Region.

Sources close to his operation have made the claim that his company, New Force Logistics CC, is still harvesting trees for export via the Walvis Bay harbour.

“I am mainly in the transportation business,” Hou reiterated.

“So far no one has been logging [since the moratorium on tree harvesting]. The police, forest department patrol every day and the new cut wood, it is easy to see, will be confiscated and fined!”

However, a recent trip to the Kavango area showed frenetic activity before transport and export permits expire on 31 March.

Between the Mururani Veterinary Gate and Rundu, several trucks could be seen loading logs along the B8 road. After the suspension of timber harvesting licences on 26 November last year, all permits – including transport and exporting permits – were cancelled and according to the ministry of forestry no new logging permits have been issued.

However, on 6 February the forestry ministry announced that the environment ministry had authorised it to lift the moratorium on the transport of timber cut in the Kavango East, Kavango West and Zambezi regions before 26 November.

The issuing of transport and export permits for “already cut” timber resumed from 8 February and will cease on 31 March.

The forestry ministry has so far neglected to provide reasons why the transport and export permits were reissued for timber harvested illegally, since – with only two exceptions – all trees were felled without environmental clearance certificates.



Ongoing activities

Logging of slow-growing hardwood trees protected under Namibian law continues at fever pitch while the window for transport and export remains open.





Evidence of these activities can be seen north of the Mururani Gate and elsewhere.

During the weekend of 16 and 17 March, about 32 kilometres from the Mururani Gate and at the turn-off to the Rooidag Gate, a huge stockpile of timber marked 'OPO' was lying on the side of the road, presumably ready for pick-up.

Ten kilometres further, a truck belonging to New Force Logistics CC was parked, fully loaded with timber. Next to it were some logs lying under a tree, presumably because the truck was filled to capacity.

A short distance from there, a group of men were standing around a small sedan car with a big pile of planks, which they said they had retrieved “from the bush” and were selling locally.

Yet another short drive from there – about 15 kilometres or so – another unidentified truck was being loaded with timber by a group of men who appeared angry when they were photographed.

By early evening, more trucks loaded with timber were lined up outside Rundu, presumably waiting for nightfall, the preferred time for the transport of timber to either Walvis Bay or “straight to South Africa”, as one veterinary officer at the Rooidag Gate in the Tsumkwe West area said.

By the weekend the area in the Ncaute Community Forest along the D3401 road between Ncaute and Taratara was a hive of activity.

From Ncaute, the first activity was at Hou's “camp” – an unfenced area next to the main gravel road – where timber was being processed for transport. On one side there was a large pile of unprocessed and fresh-looking tree trunks; on the other, cut logs were being piled up.

Men operating a large front loader, chainsaws, a forklift and at least five large, yellow trucks were working there.

One of the trucks drove off towards the Taratara area, where it is alleged harvesting is continuing in dense forest along sandy roads that are becoming impassable because of the truck traffic.

Despite the evidence that stockpiles are not getting any smaller since the November harvesting moratorium, Hou remains adamant: “Namibia's forest ministry is heavily regulated. Confiscation, fine. No one breaks the law!”

He adds: “We take advantage of our machines and equipment to buy their wood. If they think the price is unreasonable, they can find a better buyer.”

He also has advice for the government: “Reasonable logging and strict regulation. That is what the government needs to do. Public opinion cannot replace the law [and] cannot improve the living standards of the poor.”

Hou insists that he is merely “assisting” Namibian small-scale farmers: “I have invested a lot of sawing machines to do supporting services, so it is easier to help them [the farmers] increase the sales price.”

Still further down the D3401 at Vikota village, a Namibian was loading trees for a Chinese client, a certain Mr Fong, who is said to live at Rundu's Rainbow Village. Mr Fong could not be traced. The Namibian logger, Tony Vimbala, admitted to having harvested trees as late as January this year.

The most commonly used road out of Kavango East is through the Mururani Gate. However, some transport operators, like the truck Vimbala was loading, prefer to take a roundabout route past Tsintsabis and via Tsumeb to Walvis Bay.



Rooidag Gate connection

At the Rooidag veterinary gate, state veterinary officer Romanus Nyangana said that many of the timber trucks driving through the Tsumkwe West area came from farms along the border with Kavango East.



Nyangana said he found it puzzling that most of the transport permits for trees harvested in the Rundu area were issued at the Katima Mulilo forestry office.



Despite earlier denials by Hou, Nyangana said “some Chinese” were participating in tree harvesting.



Nyangana said trucks passing through the Rooidag Gate were searched for prohibited wildlife products such as elephant tusks, rhino horns or hides.



In Tsumkwe West, he said, only camelthorn trees were being cut, possibly unsustainably, to be used locally for fencing.



While the customs and excise department in the finance ministry is yet to provide statistics on the number of timber trucks that have recently crossed the border from Katwitwi, most of the trucks seen on the road between the northern regions carried wood originating from Namibia.



Tree experts, preferring anonymity, say a proper assessment of the logging frenzy in the two Kavango regions and Zambezi could only be done once the dust has settled.

Similar News

 

EIF wins award for sustainable financing

1 day - 21 September 2020 | Environment

ELLANIE SMITWINDHOEKThe Environmental Investment Fund (EIF) of Namibia will receive an award that recognises its success in financing climate-change resilient livelihoods.The EIF will receive the...

New technology to help monitor rhinos

6 days ago - 16 September 2020 | Environment

ELLANIE SMITWINDHOEK After a study on black rhinos in Namibia, new software has been developed by researchers in the United States that could help conservationists...

Support for San conservancies

1 week ago - 09 September 2020 | Environment

ELLANIE SMITWINDHOEKThrough support from the tourism ministry and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Nyae Nyae and N#a Jaqna conservancies will be...

Zambezi hippos not critical

2 weeks ago - 08 September 2020 | Environment

ELLANIE SMIT WINDHOEK The environment ministry has clarified that hippos stranded in a pond in the Wuparo Conservancy in the Zambezi Region are not in...

EIF working to become self-sustainable

2 weeks ago - 03 September 2020 | Environment

ELLANIE SMITWINDHOEKDespite undeniable achievements in its eight years of operation, the Environmental Investment Fund (EIF) of Namibia remains challenged to meet the financial demands of...

Officials get 'teeth' to identify trafficked ivory

1 month - 18 August 2020 | Environment

ELLANIE SMITWINDHOEK A comprehensive new guide has been published to assist law enforcement agencies to identify trafficked ivory. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered...

Cecil threatens African wildlife conservation

1 month - 18 August 2020 | Environment

ELLANIE SMIT WINDHOEK The Conserving Ecosystems by Ceasing the Importation of Large Animal Trophies (Cecil) Act, currently being considered by the United States Congress, will...

Illegal sand miners warned

1 month - 12 August 2020 | Environment

KENYA KAMBOWERUNDUThe environment ministry has condemned sand miners who start operations without obtaining environmental clearance certificates.They simply pay traditional authorities, who are grateful for the...

Training tomorrow's rhino rangers

1 month - 11 August 2020 | Environment

STAFF REPORTER WINDHOEK The Save the Rhino Trust (SRT) has received a N$1.11 million donation from the Debmarine-Namdeb Foundation to develop innovative...

N?a Jaqna holds best AGM yet

1 month - 10 August 2020 | Environment

ELLANIE SMITWINDHOEK The N≠a Jaqna Conservancy recently held its most successful annual general meeting (AGM) to date in Mkata, situated in Tsumkwe West. ...

Latest News

Sioka condemns withdrawal of GBV...

1 day - 21 September 2020 | Social Issues

KENYA KAMBOWENKURENKURUGender equality and child welfare minister Doreen Sioka has condemned victims of gender-based violence (GBV), predominantly women, who withdraw such cases after they have...

EIF wins award for sustainable...

1 day - 21 September 2020 | Environment

ELLANIE SMITWINDHOEKThe Environmental Investment Fund (EIF) of Namibia will receive an award that recognises its success in financing climate-change resilient livelihoods.The EIF will receive the...

Swapo must assume moral leadership

1 day - 21 September 2020 | Opinion

Speaking to Namibian Sun in August, former Botswana president Ian Khama accused liberation movements in Southern Africa of ‘oppressive brotherhood’, taking aim at their deafening...

Mining industry contracts 11.1%

1 day - 21 September 2020 | Business

ELLANIE SMITWINDHOEKThe mining industry has recorded a negative growth of 11.1% last year, a deep contraction from the positive growth of 16.1% in 2018.This is...

Former governor Vatuva laid to...

1 day - 21 September 2020 | People

TUYEIMO HAIDULAOMUNGWELUMEFormer governor of Oshana Region Silvanus Vatuva was buried at the Omulungwelume cemetery in the Ohangwena Region on Saturday.President Hage Geingob paid tribute to...

Return to school not mandatory:...

1 day - 21 September 2020 | Education

NAMPAKHORIXASThe return of learners to schools is not mandatory but encouraged, as learning from home is captured in the current circular put in place, education...

Orange River agreement revised

1 day - 21 September 2020 | International

ELLANIE SMITWINDHOEKAgriculture minister Calle Schlettwein has recommended that the National Assembly ratifies the revised Orange-Senqu River Basin Commission (Orasecom) agreement.The agreement between Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho...

APP condemns Stina's discount land...

1 day - 21 September 2020 | Politics

RUNDUNAMPAThe All People's Party (APP) has condemned the alleged N$20 million discount land deal businesswoman Stina Wu scored at Divundu in the Kavango East Region.APP...

Havana rape spree continues

1 day - 21 September 2020 | Crime

NAMPAWINDHOEKA man from Havana informal settlement in Windhoek was shot dead early Saturday morning when he tried to come to the aid of his sister...

Load More