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Veep Orders Investigation Into Lusangazi Forest Destruction

Malawi’s Vice President Saulos Chilima who travelled up north for other duties had an impromptu stop near Lusangadzi forest on his return to Lilongwe on Tuesday this week. The Veep questioned the wanton destruction of exotic and indigenous species of trees. This comes after President Chakwera’s special address on environment that warned perpetrators of such crimes, they will face the law.

Chilima asked what was the rationale of cutting down trees on such a large scale. Although he acknowledged the presence of erected poles to carry over head Optical Fiber Cable (OFC). He however, express worry on the excess habitat degradation especially the side of the road where poles carrying the OFC were conspicuously missing.

Lamented Chilima, “I don’t understand why they should cause destruction to nature, to these trees that have been here as long as I remember. They have been standing here for the longest time. We need to understand what is going on. Unfortunately, they seem to be no body as you can see. The tractors are abandoned.”

“It is most unfortunate, apart from destroying beauty, we are destroying wealth for this country. I thought I could understand what is going on and will ask the Ministry of Forestry and Natural Resources,” a worried looking Chilima said on the scene.

The Vice President argued that if it was clearing the OFC, it was justified only to clear trees on the side where the line had passed. Unfortunately, he was surprised that they were clearing trees on the other side of the road where the line was non – existent.

On 21st October, 2020 Escom officials wrote the Chikangawa Plantation Manager, a letter titled OFC corridor clearing from Lusangadzi up to Nthungwa.

*“I don’t understand why they should cause destruction to nature, to these trees that have been here as long as I remember. They have been standing here for the longest time. We need to understand what is going on. Unfortunately, they seem to be no body as you can see. The tractors are abandoned.”**

“The OFC requires a corridor of 6 meters. Three meters on either side of the OFC. Some trees have grown so big such that they are now enveloping OFC. This is so dangerous, as they can fall on the OFC and might be broken.” The letter read in part.

On 24th October, 2020 a devoted member of Weather Chasers, a climate information and early warning online alert group Daulos Mauambeta questioned why the biggest mature blue gum trees were being chopped down along the M1 road. He tipped fellow members at exactly 09:10 am as he was driving to Mzuzu city.

Officials from Forestry said they have instituted investigations to ascertain what really happened within the department rank and file at the Chikangawa plantation for this happened. Similarly, Escom sources said they have always adhered set regulations to clear only those trees and branches with the potential to interfere transmission cables, an exercise they have ably handed since the cable was installed.

In his special address to the nation on 19th October, 2020 during the Weekly Brief hosted by State House communication department in Lilongwe. President Lazarus Chakwera who made a special address on the environment observed that trees and forests are an important component of his Government’s dream of a Greener Malawi.

He however warned perpetrators of environment crimes, “Those of you in the business of encouraging the degradation of the forests through the illegal cutting down of trees for charcoal and fuel wood will face the law.”

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About the Author
Charles Mkoka
Charles Mkoka is Secretary General of Association of Environmental Journalists in Malawi. He is also Lead Partner for Ecosystems Partners and Communication, a privately owned firm he set in 2015

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