11 January 2013

Mozambique: Customs Seize Containers of Illegal Logs

Maputo — The Mozambican customs service has seized 30 containers full of logs that were about to be exported illegally to China through the port of Maputo.

According to a report in Friday’s issue of the Maputo daily “Noticias”, the seizures began on Wednesday in the town of Marracuene about 30 kilometres north of Maputo, where Customs located ten containers, each measuring 15 cubic metres, in a yard belonging to the Chinese firm Heng Yi.

As the investigations continued, the authorities discovered a further 20 containers already in the port waiting to be loaded onto a ship heading for China.

The containers in the Heng Yi yard contained mondzo, a species classified as a first grade hardwood, which cannot be exported without processing. Yet the mondzo logs had been packed into the containers without any inspection by the relevant authorities.

The containers in the port are still being unpacked to check exactly what types of wood they contain. Staff of the Mozambican Tax Authority (AT) said that the origin of the logs is still unclear, but their nature and diameter indicate that they came from the forests of Nampula and Zambezia provinces, or possibly from the northern part of Gaza.

China is the largest consumer of Mozambican timber, and the Chinese market accounted for 85 per cent of the 430,000 cubic metres of logs that left Mozambique, much of it illegally, between 2000 and 2010, according to a report from the Environmental Investigation Agency, a London-based NGO that works to fight environmental crimes.

Customs also on Thursday announced the seizure of 14 vehicles imported from Japan that were being sold illegally at CFJ International, a vehicle sales park in Maputo. They had entered the country, either as temporary imports, or simply as contraband, and had not passed through the customs posts that deal with imported vehicles. They had therefore paid no customs duty.

Attempts by reporters to contact the owners of CFJ International resulted in failure.

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