Lungu tightens screws on mukula illegal trade

President Edgar Lungu called in the army and barred the transport of mukula logs through Zambia from neighbouring countries to curb the illegal harvest and smuggling of the endangered tree species.

“The president last Friday signed a statutory instrument (SI), making it illegal to use Zambian soil to transit endangered tree species,” announced Lands Minister Jean Kapata in Lusaka on Monday.

“This effectively seals one of the huge loopholes in the fight against illegal harvest and smuggling,” she said.

The president also roped in the Ministry of Home Affairs.

“Government is determined to restore sanity in the timber industry. So now we are going to work with the ministry of lands and ministry of defence and ourselves,” said Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo.

Over the last two weeks more than 200 trucks with mukula logs – valued at more than K60 million – were impounded by Zambian law enforcement agencies. Drivers of some of the impounded vehicles told local media the logs originated in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Kapata questioned the increased number of transiting trucks with mukula logs following an export ban by government in February.

“It is no coincidence that suddenly we have many trucks transiting through Zambia after the export ban. We know what is happening. Unscrupulous people had found a clever way to side-step the ban,” she said.

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