THE agriculture ministry is closely monitoring timber exports to ensure that the stringent measures placed on the harvesting and transporting of the product are adhered to.
The ministry gave assurances that no Namibian timber has been harvested or transported during the holiday period, and to date.
According to the ministry's spokesperson, Jona Musheko, no Namibian timber was moved during the holidays as the ministry staff who operate at various strategic roadblocks were on duty throughout the period.
"In the meantime, timber in transit from neighbouring countries such as Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo has been allowed to be moved from those countries of origin to Walvis Bay harbour. The in-transit timber is closely monitored when it enters Namibia until Walvis Bay," he said.
Musheko said a team of 17 staff members had been deployed to the Kavango West, Kavango East and Zambezi regions at the Mururani, Buravo and Mpungu Vlei check-points through which timber is transported from the north-eastern regions.
"The team has been working round the clock to ensure that all procedures are followed," he said.
Musheko added that the ministry had put measures in place to operationalise the harvesting and transporting of timber, including deploying monitoring teams to the regions.
The ministry is doing this in conjunction with environment, the Namibian police and customs officials.
The new measures include a ban on new timber harvests during this time; that all logs should be loaded in the presence of ministry officials; and that preference be given to local processors when selling the timber.
Musheko reiterated: "No new or fresh timber will be harvested; local timber processors should be given preference (to buy) before outsiders are allowed to buy the timber; no timber should be transported at night from the regions; and all timber should be loaded in truck containers in the presence of ministry officials."
Agriculture executive director Percy Misika last month said timber will only leave the country once all the required documents are obtained from the relevant authorities, namely forestry, customs and excise.
"Officials may stop any vehicles loaded with timber to request for appropriate papers. Timber coming from other countries may be allowed to be processed in Namibia, or to be in transit through Namibia, and this is to be done with close supervision of forestry officials and other relevant authorities like customs and the environment ministry," he said.
The new measures come after a Cabinet resolution, at the end of 2019, to lift the moratorium on the transportation of timber.
Information minister Stanley Simaata said Cabinet had authorised the disposal of the harvested timber in the Kavango West, Kavango East, and Zambezi regions through both local and international markets with immediate effect.
"The decision was taken on the basis of the outcry by the affected communities, and the fact that the timber in question may deteriorate if not timeously disposed of," the minister stated.
He stressed the need to add value to the raw timber, saying there is a long-term strategy by the forestry and environment ministries in collaboration with the industrialisation ministry to develop capacity.
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