Tanzanians accused of ripping off Malawians on timber

People of Misuku in Chitipa District have been cautioned against selling their precious pine trees to foreigners from neighbouring Tanzania who suddenly have found Misuku area as a source of cheap timber which they smuggle out of the country.

District Commissioner for Chitipa, Michael Chimbalanga, warned people a few days ago amidst reports that some Tanzanian traders without business permit illegally enter Malawi to stay at Misuku where they plant timber saw mills and cheaply buy timber from locals which is later smuggled out of the country using uncharted routes.

“These pine trees and other natural resources this area is boasting of are a source of wealth which, if well exploited, can improve economic status of Misuku and the district as a whole,” Chimbalanga told the people at Chatu School in the area of Chief Mwenemisuku.

He added: “As a council, we have learnt with disappointment that foreigners are ripping off people of Misuku through timber smuggling. We will not take this while lying down.”

Timber

He said what is happening at Misuku is tantamount to plundering of district’s limited resources and has since asked members of the community to coordinate with the police in intensifying   surveillance in all unchartered routes to stifle the vice.

People from neighbouring Tanzania capitalize on absence of capacity of people of Misuku to produce quality planks and find viable market for the timber from their beautiful pine trees which were planted on customary land many years ago. The trees have with the passage of time now graduated into natural forests which add beauty to the up land area.

Reports indicate that the smuggled timber from Misuku go  as far as Europe where it fetches lucrative returns.

The foreigners only pay K500 to bring down a big pine tree which produces an average of ten planks.

Recently, Chief Mwenemisuku  warned his village head men against accommodating foreigners who enter his area illegally.

“I will drag to police any leader who entertains Tanzanians and other foreigners who force their way to Misuku without any documents explaining their presence,” said Mwenemisuku during briefing meeting on this year’s input subsidy programme held at Misuku Trading Centre.

Misuku area is separated by Songwe River from Ileje District of Tanzania, and people from the two sides have for decades been coexisting. Cultural similarity, intermarriages and cross border trade have been the big bond.

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