Angry timber millers in Viphya Plantation yesterday held demonstrations to interrupt operations at Raiply and force the company to return 2 000 hectares of trees that Raiply allegedly harvested.
The millers, who started off from Mzuzu at around 12 noon yesterday to present their grievances to Viphya Plantation acting manager Custom Nyirenda, initially drove to Raiply to issue a warning to management before they held talks with him.
Upon hearing that the millers were enroute to Raiply, armed Malawi Defence Force (MDF) troops and Malawi Police Service (MPS) officers rushed to the company premises to provide security.
However, the presence of the security agents did not deter the angry demonstrators from protesting. They blocked the entrance to Raiply and burnt tyres on the M1 road.
Some of demonsrators wrestled with police and MDF officers, a development that forced the police to open fire in the air.
Raiply chief executive officer Thomas Oommen refused to comment, saying government was best placed to handle the matter.