Kusile RDC demands $240 per cubic metre from timber loggers to avoid defaulters

BY RICHARD MUPONDE

KUSILE Rural District Council (KRDC) in Matabeleland North is demanding cash up-front from timber concessions in order to increase its revenue base, with the local authority having previously incurred an increase in the number of defaulters.

In the past, the local authority would allow timber loggers into their concessions without having to pay first, but many defaulted on royalties, leaving the council in financial doldrums.

Last year, the council expanded its timber logging industry and resolved that loggers must pay first before going into logging as a way to increase its revenue
base.

KRDC chief executive Christopher Chuma has confirmed the new development.

“We no longer allow loggers to log timber without paying money upfront. Previously, it was $30 per cubic metre. However, it’s now eight-fold that due to the
inflationary environment. We are now charging $240 per cubic metre,” Chuma said.

He said the local authority was avoiding a situation where they would have to go after the defaulting loggers.

“We have managed to recover what we were owed. After that, we chased away the problematic companies from our concessions. We are no longer running after any
defaulting company,” Chuma said.

The local authority expects to finance its projects from the revenue generated from sale of timber, which is the main economic activity in Lupane.

KRDC has also embarked on a further research of its timber reserves in order to ensure the forests’ sustainability and usefulness to the district.

Timber has proven to be a good source of revenue for the council. It is believed that timber has the capacity to financially sustain the RDC for the next 15
years.

A few months ago, the local authority engaged a Chinese firm, Fazhao Investments, to harvest and process timber in the area.

Fazhao Investments is in the process of setting up a sawmill plant in Jotsholo, near Tshongogwe concession.

KRDC has a monthly quota that entitles it to harvest 400 cubic metres from the Forestry Commission.

In November, KRDC terminated a contract with Rise GateTimber, which was operating at its Shabu-Manase concession.

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