The Malawi Police Service (MPS) on Saturday intercepted four trucks loaded with timber from Zambia destined for the Mozambican port of Nacala en route to China.
Mangochi Police Station spokesperson Rodrick Maida said in an interview on Saturday the timber-loaded trucks were stopped and taken to the police station after discovering that they had no export permits.
However, the trucks were later released after the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) intervened and certified that the timber was being legally exported.
Maida said the timber belonged to a Chinese businessperson who was using Malawian agents to ship it.
Said Maida: “The drivers had no documents to show that the timber was being exported legally. But the vehicles have all been released today [Sunday] after MRA officials from Lilongwe cleared them.
“The problem is that the export permits are with the agents and the drivers are just transporting the timber without any document. But, according to MRA, they are being exported legally and we should expect more trucks trooping into the country carrying such timber [from Zambia] on their way to Mozambique.”
MRA spokesperson Steven Kapoloma said yesterday he could not say whether the timber was legal because “right now I have got no information as to what really happened.”
On the other hand, Mangochi district forestry officer (DFO) Lemos Mlaviwa said the vehicles were carrying a combination of tree species such as Mukula (Pterocarpus Crysothrix) and Phingo (Dalbergia melanoxylon) commonly known as African Ebony.
The two indigenous trees have hard wood and, basing on the location they came from, they are used for carvings and making tables and chairs, among others.
A few months ago, Zambia banned harvesting of its timber in its forests due to the alarming rate of the stealing and businesspeople using false documentation in a bid to elude police officers manning check points.
It is alleged that there are readily available markets for the said timber trees in China.