Mozambique: Illegal Export of Timber Aborted in Pemba

Maputo — The provincial attorney’s office in the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado, has ordered the detention of nine people in connection with an attempt to export timber illegally to China from the port of Pemba.

According to a report in Thursday’s issue of the Maputo daily “Noticias”, three of those detained are customs officials, four are inspectors from the National Quality Control Agency (AQUA), and two are members of the defence and security forces.

Milagre Matusse, the director of the customs service in Cabo Delgado, told the paper that 102 containers full of timber were ready to be exported to China – but only 32 of them contained timber that can legally be exported.

Much of the wood in the other 70 containers consisted of unprocessed logs, and the export of logs is illegal. Matusse declined to give many other details on the grounds that the case is now in the hands of the provincial attorney.

The nine people detained were involved in loading the timber into containers in the town of Montepuez. It is suspected that they were bribed to allow the unprocessed logs to be included in the cargo.

The attempt to export timber illegally was aborted because an anonymous phone call alerted the AQUA head office in Maputo. AQUA then sent a team to Pemba who ensured that the containers were seized before they could be sent to China.

The Chinese company Sheufang was in charge of exporting the timber. A representative of this company told “Noticias” that it has been “induced into error” by the suppliers of the timber in Montepuez, and it was they who put into the containers types of wood the export of which is forbidden by law.

Asked how Sheufang could possibly export a product without checking its specifications, the representative was unable to answer.

Source: Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique