Central Province to meet over logging operation
Central Islands Provincial will convene an urgent meeting this week to discuss a logging company’s operations and compliance issues.
Tropical Logging Company landed with its machineries two weeks ago at Voghovavala point, Nautuha District, with informing the provincial executive.
The incident prompted widespread criticism of the provincial administration’s capacity to control logging operations in Central Province
Premier Patrick Vasuni yesterday told the Sunday Star his executive will meet to discuss the issues surrounding the logging company’s operations.
“The news of logging equipment being offloaded to commence operations a fortnights ago is surprising indeed,” Vasuni said.
“The landowners and logging company never consult us,” he added.
“They are not adhering to regulations and processes which they should have followed at the provincial level.”
Vasuni said upon hearing the landing of the equipment his office dispatched a police team and an officer from the provincial forestry desk to check the logging company’s status and authorization.
“The company then provided to the officers the original documents and felling licence to harvest the virgin forest.
“The documents are with me and from what I read, they went through proper channel.
“They have felling licence and are legitimate as being authorized by the Ministry of Forestry Licensing office and signed,” Vasuni said.
But he said his administration is demanding the logging company to pay their business licence to the province.
“Instead of paying the full business license amount, the logging company only paid one quarter.
“It’s frustrating and does not meet the provincial business requirement.
“So in our executive meeting, we will discuss those compliance matters and see how we can go about that felling activity in the province,” Vasuni said.
He said that Tropical Logging Company previously operated in Central Province and now they are back again.
“Past provincial executive have carried out timber hearing rights with the landowners.
“And Tropical Logging Company has been harvesting the forest on that customary land years ago and it is their second time the landowners invited them.
“Their felling licence is owned by a local from Gela.
“They were stopped during their past operations for unknown reasons which my office is trying to ascertain at themoment.”
Vasuni said landowners have the right to harvest their resources and as a provincial government, they have little influence over resource owner’s rights.
“We only ensure that companies operate legally and pay their business licence to the province.”
Currently there are two logging activities in the Central Islands – Pavuvu in the Russell Islands and now at Nautuha District on Gela.
By TEDDY KAFO