DIEN BIEN (VNS)— Under a hot afternoon sun in December, dozens of motorbikes
carrying pieces of wood descend to the Huoi Long ferry in Tua Chua
District's Huoi So Commune.
|Illegal logged timber is transported along the Da River in northern Dien Bien Province's Huoi So Commune of Tua Chua District. Local forestry officials claimed to be unaware of the situation. — VNA/VNS Photo Hai An
The motorbikes were carrying at least 40
planks, each is about 3-4m long and 20-30cm wide. The smell of wood makes it
evident that they have recently been cut and milled.
For quite some time now, communal
authorities have been struggling with the growing problem of locals logging
across the Da River to meet their needs for housing, livestock fencing, and
The Da River runs from Yunnan Province in
China, through Lai Chau, where it forms part of the border with Dien Bien
Province, and into Son La and Hoa Binh provinces. The river's total length is
910km, with more than 520km of which lying within Vietnamese territory.
Since construction of the Son La Hydropower
plant, residents of Huoi So Commune on both sides of the river have
benefited from improved waterway transportation to Son La and Lai Chau.
But that has also made it easier for them
to cut timber and carry it along the river.
Vietnam News Agency reporters who travelled
to the area witnessed dozens of illegal logging areas from Huoi Long ferry to
the central area of Huoi So Commune, about 15km away.
The deputy head of Tua Chua District's
forestry bureau, Nguyen Van Hai, said he did not believe the illegal logging
situation in the district was as bad as it was in some other areas.
"We have done what we can. If there's no
direction from the district authorities, it's difficult for us," Hai said.
Huoi So Commune People's Committee Vice
Chairman Ly A Chinh said that illegal logging has increased because many
households in the area were relocating and building new homes.
Residents were supposed to inform the
district's Department of Agriculture and Rural Development about the amount of
wood they needed for construction but many had only informed the heads of their
hamlets, Chinh said.
According to Tua Chua District's Department
of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, a programme to provide housing for the
poor under Government Decision 167 had concluded in December 2010 after
building about 1,300 houses for the poor in the district. However, there has
been no further housing support in the commune since that time.
Forestry officials in Tua Chua District
said they were unaware of the situation.
At a conference held last week to review
progress in forestry management, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural
Development Ha Cong Tuan called for stronger law enforcement and stricter
penalties against criminal activity in the nation's forests, including
complicity of forestry officials who function without full transparency.
Over 27,000 violations of forestry laws
were detected in 2012 and about 3000ha of forest was lost in 2012 to illegal
logging, the conference was told. — VNS