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Logging scandal scares Isabel communities

A proposed logging operation which is expected to land on Lava land close to Bagovu village, Maringe district, is scaring communities within Gao in Isabel province.

Report reaching this paper stated that a logging company was granted a timber right to undergo logging operations at Lava land in Bagovu area but instead of establishing a log pond on areas within Bagovu, the company landed at Giloto land, close to Tanade village in Bogotu district.

The report stated that the landing took place because the company was unable to get positive negotiation with other landowners of Bagovu who own land in the coastal areas to establish a log pond close to the operation site.

By looking at the map of Isabel province, these two pieces of land are separated by approximately 70 kilometres with lots of innocent land and resources that are not included in the concession area.

Report stated that the logging company has already handed on Giloto land and are now settling down ready to kick of their operation.

The issue looks murky as there are two separate maps displaying concession areas for the said logging operation.

The first map which was endorsed by the Ministry of Forestry and Isabel provincial government displayed that the only concession area is within Lava land.

But there is another map which shows an extension to the concession area from Lava land to Hobaba – now the standing concession area is from Giloto in Bugotu to Hobaba in far north of Maringe district.

A Timber Right hearing held at Kologaru on January 13 early this year clearly stated and recognise that Lava land is the only concession area for the logging operation.

The Isabel Provincial Executive in its deliberation of the Timber Hearing made the following decisions; that the trustees of Lava Customary Land are true landowners of the concession area as seen in the map – refers to the first map but that there were not dispute from the objectors on the identified concession area (Land Land).

Isabel Provincial Executive also made it clear that they do not grant access for the logging company to establish a log pond on land close to the area but rather encourages the company and its co-hosts to consult other landowners who owns the land on the coastal area to establish their (company) log pond.

It is believed that consultation for the land access was negative and that has forced the logging company to establish its log pond at Gilota land.

Those familiar with the issues is currently taking the leading role to dig the issue and investigation so far found that there are fishy dealings at the top level.

Landowners, elders and Isabel Provincial government are also questioning the second map and who endorsed the concession area.

Commenting on the issues, Isabel Province Youth Forum (IPYF) strongly condemns the apparent unscrupulous deals being involved behind the issue.

“We will fight to expose the individuals behind this unlawful act.

“We will work with the legitimate landowners to get rid of this people and company from their lands,” the group said in a statement.

IPYF is a social media platform that Isabel youths discus critical issues and also share ideas.