Solomons Logging Company Defies Seizure Order

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Firm allegedly logs outside licensed area, illegally moves machinery

By Ednal Palmer

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Sept. 29, 2014) – Samlimsan logging company trading as Macranka Timber Enterprise has allegedly shrugged off a seizure order and escaped with machines.

Bishop Tuhenua, a local who operates Isles Tropical Timber Limited in Rennell Island said the logging machineries were ‘silently’ loaded onto two barges and shipped from Rennell Island last week.

"The first barge with the first shipment of the logging machineries left Rennell on Wednesday last week. The second one left last Thursday afternoon," Mr Tuhenua said.

This was in defiance of a notice of seizure issued by the commissioner of forestry two weeks ago.

The commissioner issued the seizure order to hold up 11,000 m3 of round logs harvested by the company on Rennell Island and the company’s machineries.

The logs worth around $1.3 million [US$177,000] were said to be felled and extracted in an area outside of the company’s licensed area.

In the order, commissioner Reeves Moveni stated that he had received confirmed reports from forestry officers doing assessment following various alleged complaints from landowners in Rennell.

"I have the reason to believe that an offence has been committed by felling and extracting logs outside of your licensed area," Mr Moveni stated in the seizure notice.

He then ordered that all forest products, together with all machineries and equipments used by Macranka Timber Enterprise in committing the offence be seized.

The company was then ordered to provide the commissioner with the list of machineries/equipments used, provide the full log list and log species felled outside of the licensed area and that all loading and expenses relating to the export of the cargo be bound by the buyer or licensee and contractor, and at no cost to the Solomon Islands government.

A landowner spoken to in relation to the logging firm’s operation said the firm has defied all calls for it to stop operations.

This week, fresh reports surfaced the company will go at any length to escape punishment by silently removing all its machineries from Rennell.

Mr Tuhenua said because police and forestry officers are slow in carrying out their responsibility to cease the machines, the company is evading the order notice.

"It is very likely any police and forestry officers sent to seize the machines will get nothing in Rennell because all the machines were already removed.

"The fear is those machines might be removed to their other operation locations in other provinces making it very difficult to identify which machines were used in Rennell," he said.

He said he had already formally written to the commissioner of police to act promptly inorder to bring this company to face the law.

"It looks like this company is going to successfully avoid seizure.

"This company I must say has got no respect for the laws and thinks he can buy his way through anything.

"In fact landowners have been struggling at all cost to stop the company from entering illegally in their lands for so long now, thanks to the commissioner of forestry for finally issuing the seizure order last two weeks."

Mr Tuhenua said landowners went as far as taking away chainsaws and keys of some logging machineries used but they used spare keys and continued to operate.

"That shows how ignorant this company is and that they can go as far as breaking our laws intentionally to get what they want."

He said now that the machines were whisked silently to some unknown locations to avoid seizure, it will prove how effective our policing on forestry laws are upheld.

"Police must react promptly. We want police to ensure laws are upheld.

"One more thing, the company cannot say its operation in Rennell is over. They cannot use that as an excuse for removing the machines because they still have one or two more concession areas still to be operated in.

"The company must be made to disclose where the machines are shipped to."

Mr Tuhenua said this company have been logging more log quota than the province’s quota requirement in one year.

"The province’s maximum requirement is 40,000 cubic per annum, but this company this year logged 50,000 cubic in just a matter of months.

"Prompt action and severe penalties must be imposed on Samlimsan which is trading under various alias names to avoid being caught."

This paper ran a story of the seizure notice early this month. Attempts to talk to the Samlimsan then were refused. The Solomon Star tried unsuccessfully to talk to the company during the weekend.

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