Parliamentary committee stops plunder in Viphya plantation: Raiply concession under review

The Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources and Climate Change on Saturday denied Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining to allow a “third party” to collect or cut dead wood in the concession area for Raiply Malawi Limited in Viphya Plantation, saying the development will lead to free for all plunder of what has remained of the plantation.

Matanda, talking to journalists after the meeting…
Chilenga, talking to journalists after the meeting

 

This was was said on Saturday when Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining officials–led by Principal Secretary Patrick Matanda–appeared before the committee to explain new concession agreements the ministry has entered into with Raiply Malawi Limited and Reformed Timber Millers Union (RTMU).

The meeting took place in the Parliament building in the Capital Lilongwe.

Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining is currently reviewing concession agreements with Raiply and RTMU in what the ministry describes as an effort to “ensure sustainable management of Viphya Plantation”.

Raiply Malawi Limited has a concession area of 20,000 hacters in Viphya Plantation and there are concerns that the company is allegedly failing to manage some parts of its concession–which is leading to loss of numerous tress.

 

Members of the Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources and Climate Change disapproved government and Raiply’s new draft concession agreement because of the “third party” issue.

Even Raiply Malawi Limited is reportedly not pleased with this arrangement as well.

Matanda had told the committee that the “third party” would help Raiply in managing their concession by removing dead woods that would benefit other people.

“Raiply Malawi Limited has a huge area and the communities around want to have a share of what is there.

“The surrounding communities expect that they should benefit from their own resource in terms of collection of wood and doing other small businesses,” said Matanda.

However, Chairperson for the Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources and Climate Change, Welani Chilenga, wondered why the ministry wants a “third party” when the Forestry Act already allows communities around such forests to collect and cut dead wood after being provided with licences.

“Which communities do they want to allow now? They just want to enable unscrupulous individuals to plunder the plantation further as they will be deliberately setting bush fires just to create dead woods.

“Raiply will also be affected by the implications of these activities. They will end up closing shop. People will lose jobs and government will lose revenue,” observed Chilenga.

But Matanda insisted that the committee’s fears may just be unfounded, saying there will be rules that will regulate the activities of the “third party”.

There has been no immediate comment from Raiply Malawi Limited.

The Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources and Climate Change has since asked the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining to rework their concession agreement with Raiply Malawi Limited and come back to the committee as soon as possible.

The committee had no reservations with the RTMU concession agreement.

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