Local residents are concerned about timber being smuggled on the Đắk Bla River in the Central Highland province of Kon Tum, after authorities failed to stop the illegal activity. — Photo tintaynguyen.com
KON TUM — Local residents are concerned about timber being smuggled on the Đắk Bla River in the Central Highland province of Kon Tum, after authorities failed to stop the illegal activity.
Last Tuesday, local media reported that smugglers are using tyres to float timber on the Đắk Bla River during the day. The timber is then stored at a location in Đắk Ro Wa Commune, just a kilometre from the office of the commune’s People’s Committee.
Reporters witnessed two trucks full of timber, and three other trucks and two cranes ready to transport additional lumber piled by the riverside.
The reporters informed Kon Tum City forest rangers of the smuggling. On arrival at the scene, the rangers found that the five trucks loaded with timber had disappeared, and they were able to seize just 25 planks, measuring over eight cubic metres.
Head of the Kon Tum City Forest Protection Division, Vũ Hồng Sinh, said that the timber had been illegally sourced, and no one had claimed ownership. Sinh said that the timber was allegedly from Chư Pak District in Gia Lai, a neighbouring province.
Meanwhile, vice head of Chư Păk Forest Protection Division, Nguyễn Ngọc Ni, told danviet.vn that it was too soon to say if the seized timber was from Chư Păk District, as Kon Tum City was also bordered by Kon Rẫy District of Kon Tum Province, and Đắk Đao District of Gia Lai Province.
Chairman of Kon Tum City People’s Committee, Phan Văn Thế, on Thursday told danviet.vn that as soon as he was informed of the timber smuggling on Đắk Bla River, the committee asked relevant agencies to clarify and report back on the situation.
Responding to public concern over the possible involvement of State officials or forest rangers in the timber smuggling, Thế said: “There will be no exception. Any one, any agency that is found to be involved in the Đắk Bla River timber smuggling will be punished.”
Police, forest rangers and Đắk Ro Wa Commune People’s Committee were asked to work together to investigate and uncover the owner of the timber.
Thế admitted shortcomings of relevant agencies that had not inspected the timber.
Last week, Ngọc Hồi District forest rangers and Sa Loong border guards also detected and seized almost 12 cu.m of ilegally-logged timber in the district’s Sa Loong Commune. Early this month, forest rangers also cracked down on three timber smuggling cases in Đắk Glei, Đắk Tô and Đắk Hà districts.
Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc had ordered the closure of the natural forest, freezing the remaining 2.25 million hectares of natural forests in the Central Highlands in an effort to protect the area from deforestation.
The region, including Đắk Lắk, Đắk Nông, Gia Lai, Kon Tum and Lâm Đồng provinces, is known for its biodiversity as well as the rich culture of its local ethnic minorities. But deforestation in the area has worsened in recent years, leading to a decrease of 300,000 hectares of forest area between 2010-2014. The forests which have high-value wood now only account for 10.4 percent of the remaining forest area. The number of animals, as well as rare herbs, in the jungle has also fallen sharply in recent years. — VNS