By PETER SICHALI
GOVERNMENT should give amnesty to Mukula dealers and allow them sell the already cut logs before it goes to waste, Mukula dealer Lick Kaona has said.
He said Mukula dealers were ready to sell the logs to the Zambia Forestry and Forest Industries Corporation (ZAFFICO), if granted the amnesty.
Mr Kaona observed that there were a lot of Mukula logs which were harvested before the ban.
The logs, he said, were lying in many places across the country and people were scared to sell them to the State.
He said Government should allow Mukula dealers to mop up the already cut logs for sell to ZAFFICO but put in place strict measures to ensure no fresh ones were harvested.
Mr Kaona, who is a license holder, said with the economic meltdown, Government needed to make money from all available resources.
“There are a lot of Mukula logs that have been lying idle in the bush and many hidden places.
“These can bring revenue to government if a proper plan is put in place to mass collect these logs. Some kind of amnesty is needed so that people are given a chance to freely sell the logs to dealers including those without licenses,” Mr Kaona said.
Mr Kaona said that when the Mukula trade was at peak, a lot of people sold their assets, some got loans to invest in the business.
He said they were holding on to the logs because their investments had been stuck in the bush after Government abruptly banned all Mukula dealings.
“It is therefore in this vein that we appeal for an amnesty to allow the sale of the logs to ZAFFICO at a reasonable price so that we recover our money,” Mr Kaona said.
He said even those that duly acquired production and conveyance licences at huge cost were also affected by the ban hence the need for an amnesty.
Mr Kaona said ZAFFICO has never been to some areas in Muchinga province since Government’s announcement that it will be buying Mukula from dealers.
He said the price offered by ZAFFICO was not cost reflective, hence the need to increase the price.
“Government told us that it will be buying Mukula through ZAFFICO but we have never seen them here in Isoka ,Mafinga or Nakonde and they were offering K30,000 for a truck load which is not an attractive price,”he said.
Mr Kaona said a three months amnesty would save people from going into depression and premature deaths.
“So far three of our colleagues have died due to depression after Government abruptly banned Mukula dealing because some were owing the Chinese thousands of kwacha and could not payback,” Mr Kaona said.
Mr Kaona said the Mukula logs lying in the bush could contribute to the national treasury if Government gave dealers a three months amnesty.
By PETER SICHALI