Police on Friday captured four illegal loggers suspected to be members of the Timber Millers Cooperatives Union (TMU) in Viphya Plantation in Mzimba.
The security agents also confiscated three trucks loaded with timber in search launched by TMU in the Viphya Plantation, popularly known as Chikangawa Forest.
The arrest represents a turnaround for the cooperatives banned from the heavily deforested forest where in just four years they depleted trees they were supposed to harvest for 10 years.
It also puts into question TMU members’ commitment to live up to the union’s new promise to help government end illegal logging.
In an interview, TMU president Paul Nthambazale said the truckloads are believed to have been sourced from Raiply concession area.
Nthambazale promised to hand over the trucks and illegal cargo to the Department of Forestry.
The union summoned the police after spotting its members making timber in the plantation.
“As promised, we will not spare anyone in this fight. Government is losing a lot of money to illegal harvesters. Illegal loggers destroy the forest without replanting. We want the union members to be exemplary,” said Nthambazale.
Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining spokesperson Sangwani Phiri said it was encouraging that members of the union have started implementing what they agreed with government. n