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Ownership wrangle ensues over Malawi’s Chikangawa Forest

MZUZU-(MaraviPost)-In what can be described as ownership wrangle, concessionaires of Viphya Plantation; popularly known as Chikangawa Forest, on Monday asked Minister of Forestry and Natural Resources, Nancy Tembo, to enlighten them on the recently reviewed agreement between the government and Reiply Malawi Limited.

According to the President of the Reformed Timber Millers Union (RTM) Paul Nthambazale, there is need for the government to review the decision it made as members of the union and communities around the forest are not happy with the situation.

Nthambazale appealed to the minister to understand the concerns of the RTM members and urgently do something as the situation is dire.

“It’s not us only RTM new members complaining, but everybody is complaining about the decision. What we want the government to do is to reverse the decision it made in signing the new agreement with the Reiply. In that agreement, as I already indicated, what the government has done is that they have given all the trees to Reiply,” Nthambazale said.

Concurring with Nthambale, Maxwell Banda, a forest ranger, said Reiply Malawi asked them to stop manning the forest, saying their services were no longer needed as they were seen as trespassers.

However, in her response, Tembo said government has not sold the entire forest to the said company and that her ministry will make public the new arrangements made between government and Reiply Malawi.

Tembo said: “A new agreement has been signed but members of staff are not aware of the change of relationship with Reiply and so, it’s something that we need to address and communicate with them. They must understand what the new arrangement is. So, it’s something that will be addressed.

Speaking on behalf of Reiply Malawi, Spokesperson, Dalitso Chimwala, assured all concerned parties of the company’s commitment to addressing all grey issues.

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