Accusations and counter-accusations loom large as Timber Millers Union has asked Raiply Malawi to pay out pine trees worth K4 billion (US$8.9 million) for reportedly “stealing hardwood” from Viphya Plantation for nearly a decade.
The two concessionaires commenced out-of-court negotiations on Monday in a case in which the unionists detained four Raiply workers two weeks ago and two officials from the Department of Forestry who were reportedly caught harvesting trees in the union’s concession area in Nthungwa Forest.
Raiply paid up to K800 000 (US$1 778) last Thursday to retrieve a truckload of logs from Mchengautuwa Police Unit in Mzuzu.
Raiply chief executive officer Tomas Oomen confirmed the K4 billion demand saying the stand-off, could be out of vengeance following three court cases involving union members captured harvesting pine in the company’s territory.
He said they have not flouted any rules.
During a trip to Nthungwa, forestry officer Andrew Mhango, said Raiply fulfilled the due process before accessing the bluegums which he said fall outside the union’s mandate.
In an interview, union president Paul Nthambazale-Nyirenda laughed off the remarks by Raiply boss and the forester.