Conforzi Plantations Limited in Thyolo has decried the loss of trees at its woodlot as an economic loss to the company.
The company grows trees such as blue gum and pine as fuel wood for running its tea factory boilers, production of feed meal as well as supplying heat to the company’s poultry division.
In an interview on Wednesday, Conforzi Plantations Limited compliance and administration manager Goodwin Mwakanema quantified the loss to be in millions of kwacha.
He said it takes between nine and 14 years for a blue gum or pine tree to mature, which will be about 15 metres tall and cost K22 343.75.
Between July and September, thieves have stolen 28 trees of 30 metres long estimated at K1.2 million. This has been happening for the past years, which means the loss could be more.
On Tuesday, the company’s security team and Thyolo Police Station officers impounded a two-tonner Mitsubishi Canter, registration MH5176, which carried logs from the plantation.
The police station’s spokesperson Rodney Maida yesterday confirmed the impounding of the vehicle and the capture of the driver.
“We have the logs at the police station but the vehicle was released. Investigations are underway to arrest the suspects who jumped out of the vehicle and fled.
“We only arrested the driver who was just hired and has since been released pending investigations. We are confident of arresting the suspects as soon as the investigations are over,” he said.
Maida said they are jointly conducting patrols with the estate’s security team. n