Local residents are concerned about timber being smuggled on the Dak Bla River in the Central Highland province of Kon Tum, after authorities failed to stop the illegal activity (Photo tintaynguyen.com)
 
 
Kon Tum (VNA) - Local residents are concerned about timber being smuggled on the Dak Bla River in the Central Highland province of Kon Tum, after authorities failed to stop the illegal activity.

On January 17, local media reported that smugglers are using tyres to float timber on the Dak Bla River during the day. The timber is then stored at a location in Dak 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 Vu Hong Sinh said that the timber had been illegally sourced, and no one had claimed ownership. Sinh said that the timber was allegedly from Chu Pak district in Gia Lai, a neighbouring province.

Meanwhile, vice head of Chu Pak Forest Protection Division Nguyen Ngoc Ni told danviet.vn that it was too soon to say if the seized timber was from Chu Pak district, as Kon Tum city was also bordered by Kon Ray district of Kon Tum province, and Dak Dao district of Gia Lai province.

Chairman of the Kon Tum City People’s Committee Phan Van The, on January 17 told danviet.vn that as soon as he was informed of the timber smuggling on Dak 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, The said: “There will be no exception. Any one, any agency that is found to be involved in the Dak Bla River timber smuggling will be punished.”

Police, forest rangers and the Dak Ro Wa Commune People’s Committee were asked to work together to investigate and uncover the owner of the timber.

The admitted shortcomings of relevant agencies that had not inspected the timber.
Last week, Ngoc Hoi 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 Dak Glei, Dak To and Dak Ha districts.
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc 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 Dak Lak, Dak Nong, Gia Lai, Kon Tum and Lam Dong 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.-VNA