Timber smuggling continues despite higher fees

Transport fees for trucks smuggling Tamalan timber to China have reached Ks 10 million according to truck drivers on the Mandalay-Muse route.

“Trucks with 10 or 12 wheels attached with iron bodied container are used.

When the Chinese buyers come, they pay Ks 9 million and an oil barrel,” said one truck driver on the Mandalay-Muse road.

The smuggling only stops on days when government officials make a seizure, according to the driver who refused to be named. Drivers can earn Ks 300 million (US$ 300,000) within three months smuggling timber.

“The price for one course and a truck loaded with 10 to 15 tonnes of timbers is KS 9 million plus one barrel of oil,” said another truck driver.

The government recently passed a ban on the export of raw timber in a bid to save the country’s remaining forests and encourage more local industry.

Despite the ban, illegal timber trade continues with smugglers finding new routes through the jungle. Some say that recent fighting between ethnic rebels and the army have made it easier to smuggle timber as there are less controls.

“The Chinese buyers purchase themselves. They do not even buy teak, only Tamalan,” said another trucker. Tamalan is a hard wood found in Myanmar which is in high demand in China.

A Forest Department official said: “Besides teak, Tamalan timber has been smuggled recently. Their quality is better than that of teak. We are operating projects to diminish these contrabands.”

Source: ELEVEN Myanmar

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