Tanzania authorities impound illegal timber

Elizabeth Phili, Zambian Deputy Ambassador to Tanzania responding to questions by the press shortly after inspecting containers holding tonnes of Teakwood, with her is Tanzania's  Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and Natural Resources Dr. Adelhelm Meru.

Elizabeth Phili, Zambian Deputy Ambassador to Tanzania responding to questions by the press shortly after inspecting containers holding tonnes of Teakwood, with her is Tanzania’s Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and Natural Resources Dr. Adelhelm Meru.

Customs and natural resources officials in Tanzania on Friday seized 31 shipping containers full of hundreds of tonnes of illegally logged teakwood allegedly from Zambia.

The authorities said the largest bust of its kind impounded at the Dar es Salaam Port and bound for Far East shipments is worth over Tsh 300 million.

Illegal logging of hardwood has been on the rise in the country recently and experts are calling for heightened daily patrols and check points especially at main and illegal entry points, around the country.

Dr Adelhelm Meru, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and Natural Resources said the trees are at greater risk and the government is losing millions of shillings in revenues.

“We were informed by good Samaritans over the consignment. We enquired transportation documents to check the originality of the logs and we were told they come from Zambia but the documents were left in Tunduma,” Meru told Afrika Reporter.

The official said “according to our laws it is prohibited to transport unprocessed forest products such as wood, and for these particular containers there is no legal documents to prove the country of origin.”

The permanent secretary ordered an immediate investigation into the matter saying the suspects will face charges in the courts of law.

Zambia Deputy Ambassador to Tanzania Elizabeth Phili said Friday the originality of the haul of teakwood was not easy to verify as there was no legal documents.

She said the Zambian government has banned transportation of unprocessed forest products.

“The government does not allow exportation of such logs, whether with documents or not, the business is illegal,” she said at the Dar es Salaam port shortly after customs officials seized the containers.