Reports to Harare News in recent weeks suggested that a team of loggers in informal clothing was felling large trees and removing them on an unmarked truck and trailer.
This morning Harare News was tipped off that the logging crew was active along Enterprise Road, near the 167 retail complex opposite Lewisham Shops. Upon visiting the site, it was apparent that no less than six very large conifers had been felled. A team of approximately ten men was loading five to ten metre logs onto the back of a white haulage truck.
Discussion with the foreman on duty indicated that both the truck and the treefellers were hired by a Mrs Chanakira, with an unknown position within Zanu PF. The logs were being removed to Mbudzi roundabout for milling into timber. The men cutting the trees were unaware of any involvement of city council in their work.
“This is my second job for Mrs Chanakira,” said the man in charge. “We also cut the trees up the road by the Chinese place,” he said. He further revealed that Mrs Chanakira’s previous tree feller had passed away.
Harare Gardens, the City of Harare department responsible for the care of trees and grass reported that they had not given permission. They attended to the scene with municipal police from Highlands District Office, who questioned the men present as well as the owner of the property adjacent. She confirmed that she was approached by Mrs Chanakira about the trees, to see if they were on her property, which they were not. According to the resident, Mrs Chanakira had then advised her that the trees were to be removed, as they were interfering with Zesa lines. The resident objected since the trees were a sound barrier against the busy Enterprise Road. Nonetheless, some weeks later, the treefellers arrived, the power lines were lowered, and the trees cut down.
“I’m not happy, we haven’t had power for two days, and I’m studying for exams,” she said.
Mrs Chanakira was phoned by the municipal police on the scene, and instructed to report to the Highlands District Office. By 2:30pm, she had not arrived, and the police returned to the scene to confiscate equipment.
Efforts to get comment from Mrs Chanakira proved futile, as first she hung up the phone, and then promised to call back which she did not.
“The fine for cutting even one tree is in the region of $1,000,” said a supervisor from the Gardens department. “Nobody, not even Zesa, is allowed to cut down municipal trees, and if Zesa need trees removed, we do it ourselves,” he added. He encouraged residents to report all instances of tree cutting on verges and in public areas to Harare Gardens immediately.
The truck being used to transport the logs was also previously sighted hauling felled trees from Chisipite Vet on Harare Drive, and outside the Council Clinic on Hindhead Drive in Highlands. The police are still waiting to question Mrs Chanakira, and will take further action on Monday morning.
If you have seen the truck pictured, email [email protected] or call or message 0776 729 326.
To report suspicious tree cutting, call Mr Doka on 0712 393 012.