Illegal logging on govt Minister’s front door step
By Travertz Mabone
TWO logging companies are under the scrutiny of Central Provincial Administration over allegations of illegal logging, reports the Post Courier.
Senior officers from the administration including the provincial administrator Raphael Yibmaramba and the provincial forest manager for Central Chris Kalogo made a surprise visit to Kupiano last week and found that the loggers were operating without a project agreement in place.
One of the logging camps is located out of Kupiano less than a kilometer from local MP and Minister for Agriculture and Livestock Sir Puka Temu’s residence. Mr Yibmaramba raised his suspicions after noticing that the various logging camps within a Forest Management Area (FMA) were not approved by him .
He said he had not sighted the project agreement for logging in the area nor approved any operations there. Mr Yibmaramba asked Mr Kalogo about the legality of the operations. Mr Kalogo confirmed the operations were illegal because there was no project agreement in place.
Mr Yipmaramba said he would be seeking legal advise to obtain a restraining order to shut down the operations of the two companies.
“It is believed that both companies have been operating in the area for over 10 months now and if they have been making money, it is in the millions as locals have been sighting barges shipping logs out on a regular basis,” Mr Kalogo said.
He claimed that one of the companies, Kimas Ltd is a subsidiary of logging giant Rimbunan Hijau (RH) however confirmations from RH yesterday revealed that they do not operate in Central province. It is understood that the local landowners there have been receiving money from the loggers and have allowed the logging to continue.
Mr Yibmaramba said he is surprised as well as angered that even though the national forest officer in Abau Norman Cappock was aware of this but he did not try to stop the loggers. Mr Yibmaramba said that the Labour department, Foreign Affairs and Customs will be notified and a team will be sent to inspect the activities there.