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Illegal Logging Site Shut-Down, Asians Jailed

March 16, 2018 3 comments

BY NELLIE SETEPANO, Post Courier

AN illegal logging company operating in Northern Province was shut down and 13 Asians without work permits were locked up at the Popondetta cells.

Northern Province Police have confirmed the shutdown of the illegal logging company known as Northern Forest Products at Collingwood Bay, Wanigela with thousands of logs and heavy equipment impounded. All logs and equipment will be moved to Oro Bay.

Provincial Police Commander Chief Inspector Lincoln Gerari said police had acted on advise from National Forest Authority to move onto the site and shut it down after its illegal operations on 45,000 hectares state land that consists of portions 135, 136 and 137.

“We moved in last Friday and caught them off guard, the Asians were cooking pumpkins, and then fled into the bushes and our men went after them,” Gerari said.

When caught, the men complained that they were never fed properly and or paid by the site manager since arriving last September.

Police said the loggers arrived with no legal entry permits and are now arrested and charged under the Employment of Non-Citizens acts 2007. Aged between 28 to 50 years; 12 of the men are from Malaysia and one from Indonesia. This section provides for prohibition of employment without valid work permit. Separately, the site manager was charged for stealing logs on state.

According to police, the provincial government had a keen eye on the operations of the company that had entered into a partnership with landowner group called Aiso [Assor] Development Corporation under the pretext of doing agricultural business and growing cash crops like cocoa.

Northern Governor Garry Juffa who has been aware of the illegal operations and had brought the issue to the attention of National Forest Authority and ensured the shut down happened. He also visited the site after the raid and confirmed the shutdown.

Mr Juffa talked to the villages and assured those involved will be prosecuted.

The governor has been vocal about illegal aliens operating in the province and vowed to remove them.