Mozambique authorities have intercepted an illegal haul of 93 containers of logs destined for China. The containers had already been loaded on board the PIL vessel PACIFIC DIAMOND (13,547-gt, built 2002) in the port of Pemba in northern Mozambique when Forestry and Wildlife Services swooped, preventing the ship from sailing and forcing the unloading of the cargo.
In terms of Mozambican law, timber such as Jambirre hardwood must be at least semi processed before being exported. Instead two exporters had loaded completely unprocessed logs totalling 255 cubic metres directly into the containers. Documents presented to the authorities claimed the logs had been sawn into planks, which would then have complied with export requirements but an inspection showed that none of the logs had in fact been made into planks.
It is being claimed that certain personnel within Mozambique Customs were aware of the irregularity and yet allowed the logs to be loaded for export. In addition an official in the Forestry department has been suspended under suspicion of having colluded with the illegal export attempt.
The logs have now become forfeit to the state.
The raid on the ship by officials from the Forestry and Wildlife Services initially targeted a single company involving just 18 containers. After being confronted with the facts concerning the illegal consignment the exporter is reported to have ‘shopped’ a second exporter who had loaded 75 containers, which were then discovered to have also been illegally loaded.
All 93 containers were removed from the Pacific Diamond which later sailed empty as the berth was needed for another vessel.