RUNDU - About 216 logs of Kiaat timber, scientifically known as Pterocarpus Angolensis, confiscated by authorities several years back, has been left to rot at the cordon fence of Mururani in Kavango West.
A senior official attributed the delays to the Ministry of Works.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF) says it is unable to auction the timber and generate some revenue for the state as that function falls within the ambit of the Ministry of Works and Transport that at the time of going to press was not available for comment.
The timber could rot, depreciate in market value and get ruined as it has been exposed to the sun and has been subjected to subsequent rain seasons.
John Niipale the Chief Forester for the Forestry Directorate responsible for Kavango West, Kavango East and Zambezi regions said it is not up to the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry to auction the timber but for the Ministry of Works and Transport who are responsible for government auctions.
“It will be auctioned very soon, you know it has to go through the government auction procedures which is done by Ministry of Works, but there is a schedule for them to be auctioned later this year in September,” said the Chief Forester for the northeast.
“We tried to ask the treasury to allow us to auction it ourselves but our request was not granted. It is not only at Mururani, we have a lot or timber in Rundu, in Zambezi and so on, it’s also a serious concern from our side, this wood has to go, like you said to generate income for government, otherwise it will rot,” he said.
Some sources are aghast that government with its coffers currently under siege could have auctioned the logs and generated much needed revenue rather than let the timber to rot.
According to sources, the timber was confiscated after it was discovered it was harvested illegally in the Mbunza Traditional Authority area of Kavango West Region and the culprits were not apprehended as they escaped before forestry officials could nail them.
One needs a permit to harvest timber from the Directorate of Forestry and those caught without the necessary documents could face the long arm of the law.
New Era spoke to an official to gather more information at the forestry office in Mururani but the official who refused to be identified noted that illegal harvesters could face fines equivalent to the value of the timber found in their possession, but in this case the culprits bolted from the scene.
“People need harvesting permits, they can’t just go and cut, it’s illegal. At the moment what we have here is the 216 timber and some planks that we confiscated, they will be auctioned in September,” said the official who could not divulge more information as he is not allowed to speak to media.
New Era has been informed by sources that there are several trees that have been confiscated at various forestry offices in the two Kavango regions as they were harvested illegally but are usually left to rot instead of being auctioned to generate revenue for government.