The Cameroonian Directorate General of Customs (DGC) has launched a special operation intended to reinforce the regularity of timber exports.
The operation dubbed “Fight Illegal Timber Trade Export” (FILTTRE), was launched on Thursday, September 10, 2020. According to the DGC, the operation will last for three months.
It is renewable and aims at attaining three objectives, namely: fighting against the laundering of national timber through fake transit as a mode of operation,optimising the security of export revenue and ameliorating the statistics of external commerce.
On the ground, the operation involves control within the main production arteries of the forestry and the mining region in the east, mainly in Belabo, Yokadouma and Mouloundou as well as in Douala and Kribi.
These two towns within the Littoral and South regions host the two principal ports in the country.
According to the last report of the National Institute of Statistics (NIS) on Cameroon’s external trade, in 2019, timber exports were responsible for 10.6 per cent of the country’s export revenue with seven per cent from sawed timber and 3.6 per cent from logs.
However, Cameroonians are becoming more and more skeptical of customs innovations which are seen by a plurality of the population as mere window dressing as the Customs Service was fingered by the head of state during one of his end-of-year addresses to the nation as one of the most corrupt public services in the country.
“They announce innovations and special operations to fight against improprieties which are born and bred by they themselves. The fake transit and statistics as well as revenue security they want to fight against are the brain-children of rotten apples within the customs service itself,” said a customs clearing agent in Douala who elected for anonymity for fear of reprisals from the customs.