FALLSWAY Timbers Limited, which is one of the major employers in Livingstone and Kazungula, will lay off more than 200 workers if the timber export ban is not lifted, company chairperson and managing director Shamji Viora has said.
The plant, which was registered on 20th May 1985 with an initial investment of US$10 000, has invested more than US$5 million to put up various processing machineries and other structures.
Mr Vora said a total of 235 workers would lose their jobs if the ban on the export of timber was not lifted.
In a letter dated February 25, 2013 addressed to Southern Province Permanent Secretary Chileshe Mulenga made available to the Times of Zambia in Livingstone, Mr Vora said his plant had already closed down 95 per cent of its operations since November 2012 due to the timber ban.
"If the timber ban is not lifted immediately, more than 50 stakeholders in the timber industry will be affected.
On our part as Fallsway Timbers Limited, we will have to lay off all 165 workers in the manufacturing unit, 55 part time workers and 15 workers under the marketing and supply," Mr Vora said.
He said his firm had invested more than US$9 million in a processing unit, to produce furniture and building materials to add value to raw timber which would close down due to losses.
"We might have serious litigation issues over the money we have borrowed for our business. We will not be able to pay more than US$ 1.4 million we owe and we might face court cases and bankruptcy.
"All our customers, those who have awarded contracts to us, will charge penalty fees, legal cost and also our creditability in the local and international market will be in question and damaged," he said.
He said his firm was currently struggling to provide little assistance to feed workers' families once in a day and yet production of the commodity had been halted due to the ban.
"For instance, we have confirmed orders from various customers in Republic of South Africa, Botswana, Tazara Railway Authorities and many hotels as well as lodges in Livingstone, Lusaka and Kafue to supply furniture, Railway Sleepers, Kiln Dry Timbers.
"However, due to the timber ban, we are unable to supply and we will lose all business, which we have managed after a lot of efforts and cost over the years," Mr Vora said.