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Zambia losing billions in illegal mukula exports

By PETER SICHALI

BILLIONS are being lost as high volumes of mukula are still illegally exported, a mukula trader, Mr Willard Kapila has said.

Mr Kapila said some unscrupulous people had continued to illegally export mukula despite the ban.

He said illegal mukula dealers have taken advantage of the transit deal between Zambia and the Congo DR to export logs using the Nakonde border.

Mr Kapila said harvesting of mukula had continued “secretly” and logs acquired locally were being exported together with those in transit from Congo DR.

“What is happening now is that papers from Congo are showing that for example 50 truckloads will pass through Zambia when the actual number is 40 and 10 are being loaded from Matumbo in Chinsali where they join those in transit,” he said.

Meanwhile, traders whose licences were cancelled after the ban of mukula trade have appealed to Government to lift the ban so that it could benefit everyone.

The traders, who flanked Mr Kapila in Isoka yesterday said Government was losing billions in taxes from the logs which were being illegally exported.

They called on the State to give them amnesty to allow them sell the already cut mukula before it goes to waste.

The traders said it was unfair for a few individuals to benefit at the expense of main dealers whose capital injected had not been recovered due to the ban on mukula trade.

“There are a lot of mukula logs that have been laying idle in the bush that may bring revenue to government if traders are allowed to export and pay taxes. Even us that duly acquired production and conveyance licenses at huge cost are also affected by the decision hence the need for an amnesty,” the traders said.

According to the Centre for International Forest Research, mukula production in Zambia could have amounted to about 110, 000  per annum, with revenue losses of about US$3.2 million and bribes paid to state officials of about US$1.7 million.

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