Working towards greater community control over land, forests and natural resources

Attapeu unearths huge stash of buried illegal logs

Vientiane Times, December 15,  2017 

Authorities in Attapeu province have uncovered 180 cubic metres of illegal logs, which were buried underground, local media reported.
The discovery came after authorities carried out an inspection along the Lao-Vietnam border at the 766th and 770th border markers in the southern province, Attapeu Online, published by the provincial Administrative Office, reported yesterday.
The provincial administration has formed two task force teams to carry out the inspection along the border as well as in the Vang Tud and Nongkai-Ork mining project areas, a provincial official involved in the inspection affairs told Vientiane Times yesterday.

The inspection, which is currently ongoing, comes after authorities received reports of illegal logging taking place, according to the official who asked not to be named.

Reports of illegal logging along the border emerged from time after time with the illicit logs believed to have been exported to a neighbouring country.

Inspection of the Vang Tud and Nongkai-Ork mining project areas has so far found some logging equipment and an unidentified amount of illegal logs, according to Attapeu Online.
Inspection officials believed many more trees could have been illegally cut than those already discovered.
“The discovered illegal logs were just the initial findings so far and the inspection is currently ongoing,” the official said.
“It could take a week or two for the task force teams to complete the inspection and report the whole findings.”
The official added that the inspection would take time as the areas are rugged and remote with communication signals also poor.
A high-profile illegal logging scandal in Attapeu was recently widely reported amid the government’s crackdown on the unlawful trade.  The scandal drew the public’s attention, which underlines the need for the provincial authorities to work harder to investigate the issue.
Three state officials are currently facing criminal charges over their alleged involvement in a shipment of illegally harvested wood that was discovered in 27 trucks in the province in June.
The trucks carrying more than 13,000 cubic metres of illicit timber were stopped by provincial authorities at the Phoukeua International Checkpoint as they were crossing from Attapeu into Vietnam.
The three state officials in charge of inspecting the loading of timber onto trucks and certifying the loaded trucks have been suspended from their duties in state departments.
Chairman of the provincial Party-state Inspection Committee, Mr Bounhien Keobouaphat said recently that investigations are being carried out to identify owners of the illegal logs.
Amid the logging scandal, the newly-appointed provincial Governor, Mr Leth Sayaphone, who recently replaced Dr Nam Vinhaketh, told local media recently the law would be strictly enforced against the offenders.

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