Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining has declared that “the game is up” for illegal wood smugglers as they can no longer sneak through both local and international law enforcement networks.
The ministry said the networks are now better geared to protecting forest trophies in Malawi.
Sangwani Phiri, public relations officer for Environment and Climate Change Management Sector in the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, made the declaration in an interview in Lilongwe yesterday in reaction to a story published in our sister newspaper, Nation on Sunday indicating that the Mozambican government seized 11 containers of wood allegedly smuggled from Malawi.
Mozambican media reports said the owners of the logs had declared that the containers had raw cotton.
Ministry officials said from this week, they will further investigate the matterto establish the illegal businesspersons involved.
Said Phiri: “We would like to express our gratitude to the Mozambican government for the gesture they have shown. This means that the fight against the smugglers is taking shape and we will tighten our own system as well, to choke these people.”
In its report, Nation on Sunday quoted the website www.clubofmozambique.com which reported that the logs are of red sandal wood, a protected species. The wood is believed to have been en route to China.
Phiri said Malawi is a victim of cross-border illegal trade as smugglers use it as a route, in the process taking advantage of Malawi’s trophies.
In February 2015, government revoked all export licences for round wood. But there are fears that some ‘timber sharks’ have learnt new tricks, including conniving with authorities, to continue smuggling wood products. n