The Post (Buea)

Cameroon: NW Forest Delegate Bans Timber 'Importation'

Building construction and woodwork activities in the Northwest Province are fast grinding to a halt following a controversial ban on the entry of timber into the Province by Abdoulaye Machia, Northwest Delegate of Environment and Forests.

The result of this decision is that the little left as forest reserve in the Northwest is being depleted at an alarming rate to satisfy the high demand by those engaged in building houses as well as by furniture and coffin manufacturers.

So grave is the misunderstanding that the Delegate and timber dealers in the Province have not looked at each other with friendly eyes for the last one month., The Post has been told.

Two of the timber dealers who refused to be named disclosed to the press that the delegate had banned the entry of timber into the province because of their refusal to contribute towards the construction of the latter's residence in Bafia.

According to our informant Mr. Abdoulaye Machia wanted each of them to contribute 10 pieces of 1*12 plank for the construction. When they failed to comply with the delegate's demand, he decided to frustrate them through an embargo on the product.

The Delegate, they complained, even went further to confiscate two 20-ton truckloads of timber, which he auctioned. Because the timber trade was their principal source of livelihood, they complained, their families were on the verge of starving,

Mr. Machia whom The Post later contacted, spat venom on the timber dealers, describing their activities as illegal. He even went as far as likening the dealers to "coupeur de routes" (highway robbers).

"None of them is a professional; none transports using a license," he said. He recalled that the Minister of Forestry and Wildlife, Hilman Achou Egbe, held a meeting in Yaounde on February 26, in which he gave all delegates directives on timber exploitation.

"It was the Minister who instructed me to stop the illegal entry of timber into the Northwest." The Delegate also sneered at the accusation that he demanded ten pieces of plank from the timber dealers. "Bafia, where I am constructing a house is blessed with abundant forest."

He said if he needed wood for construction he would simply contact his colleague of the Centre Province rather than depend on timber dealers in a Province that has no forest.

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