The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and the Centre for the Environment and Development (CED), the two non-governmental organisations (NGOs), have accused Vietnamese forestry companies operating in Cameroon of “massacring the country’s forests using engine saws”.
According to a just-published report entitled “Stolen Timber, Defiled Temples: The Nefarious Consequences of Timber Commerce Between Cameroon and Vietnam On The Forest Populations of Cameroon”, the NGOs noted that “In just a few years, Vietnam has become the second-largest market for Cameroonian timber after China whereas Cameroon has become the first furnisher of tropical logs to Vietnam making a value of 25 per cent of imported logs between 2016 and 2019.
In Vietnam, Cameroonian logs have replaced the Southeast Asian wood which in the past supplied the market, the report said.
The 40-page report revealed that “the exponential increase in timber commerce between Cameroon and Vietnam is based on choking strategies and illegal activities”.
The two organisations quoted “the generalized violation of the laws on importation, fiscal evasion, illegal exploitation and the non-respect of protected areas and laundering covered by paperwork” as factors driving the illicit timber trade.
“In order to respond to the exigencies of the Vietnamese authorities, several companies which do timber business have concentrated their efforts on obtaining Cameroonian documents by making abstracts of the real origins of the timber put in the Vietnamese market,” the report revealed.
The report underlines, “An official of Dai Loi Trading Co. Ltd., the biggest Vietnamese company installed in Cameroon and too, one of three biggest importers of Vietnamese timber, hid the origin of the timber it put on the Vietnamese market, even if this timber were to come from a terrorist group, as long as the ‘good documents’ were provided”.
Ayuk Moses, civil society activist said the government ought to act on the report by carrying out a thorough investigation with a view to put an end to all the irregularities and issue sanctions to companies involved.
“In normal government bureaucracy, such a report would constitute the object of a thorough investigation with a view to stopping the irregularities and punishing the companies involved. Not in present-day Cameroon where everything has been turned upside down and officialdom works for individual pockets rather than for the general good of the people,” Moses declares angrily.
It is not clear what action the Government of Cameroon would take against All Vietnamese defaulting companies after this report.