Recent reports of illegal loggers has Kavango West Regional Governor Sirrka Ausiku, suspecting that there is a network of corrupt individuals allowing illegal loggers to operate in the north-western region’s rich forest.
The governor’s concerns come after the head of the forestry directorate in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry in the Ohangwena Moses told the press that forestry officials are on the lookout for culprits, who are using Ohangwena as transit region for wood illegally harvested in the Kavango West Region.
Since last month the police have seized several truckloads of illegally harvested wood. The most recent case occurred last Tuesday when a truck with a trailer was intercepted near Eenhana.
It was loaded with 100 poles, 100 droppers and two tonnes of firewood.
Poles and droppers legally imported or illegally smuggled into the Oshana Region are commonly sold at the Oshakati Open Market.
“I’m disturbed, because we have some checkpoints before you reach Oshakati, so how do these trucks pass all these checkpoints? There are a lot of checkpoints due to the Foot and Mouth Disease. There must be loopholes somewhere, somehow. The police and the ministry of agriculture officials should not allow these trucks to pass with harvested illegal wood.
“Maybe some people lack education, or they’re being used by those who have money and to them it’s an income generating project, but they’re forgetting that they’re killing our nature,” she stressed.
Moses said forestry officials are on the lookout for culprits who are using Ohangwena as a transit region for wood illegally harvested in Kavango West.
“We don’t want to uproot the trees that we want to preserve,” Ausiku said, noting that the region must devise a plan to deal with the situation. She says her office has already engaged the police and traditional authorities to host community meetings on the importance of forestry.
Last month officials of the same forestry directorate intercepted another truck loaded with some 2 000 pieces of wood illegally harvested at Mukekete village, also in the Kavango West Region.
The truck was impounded at the police roadblock at Onhuno on September 11. The wood was confiscated and the driver fined N$300. The truck was later released.
– Additional reporting by Nampa