Rosewood transporters are not criminals

Truckers say they are being falsely accused of abetting the illegal harvesting and trade of Rosewood in Namibia.

25 March 2019 | Agriculture

Nicolaas Herridge; Trucker; “We are issued with permits to transport cargo and cannot do so without it.”

Swakopmund • Otis Finck

A Namibian trucker who is in the business of transporting Rosewood says Namibians are confused about the practise and have little understanding of it.

Nicolaas Herridge says most truckers are actually sympathetic towards the outcry of Namibians with regards to the harvesting of Rosewood and the destruction of nature that goes hand in hand with this practise.

According to Herridge who owns 50% shareholding of the truck he operates, the impression has been created that all trucks transporting Rosewood are loaded with the Namibian product.

“This is not the case. We are not corrupt and are not criminals either. We are issued with permits to transport cargo and cannot do so without it. I picked up the cargo I am carrying now 20 km from Katwiti in Angola and the transport permit proves this. Most trucks observed on Namibian roads carry Angolan or Zambian harvested Rosewood.”

Herridge says the misperceptions created in the media have led to truckers being threatened, is destroying the industry and has already led to job losses.

“Members of the public are telling us that they will burn down our trucks. If this happens, an innocent person or company will be affected negatively. The Namibian Rosewood supply industry has grinded to a halt due to the problems experienced.

“Still, Namibians adhere to regulations while the Chinese businessmen do what they want in the absence of inspectors. The sooner Namibians realise that they do not have a say in the Angolan and Zambian wood supply industry, the better.”

Angolan harvests

He reiterated that most of the Rosewood currently being transported on Namibian roads is harvested in Angola. “My cargo and that carried by most other trucks currently in Walvis Bay are destined for Vietnam. This wood was cut down approximately 5 years ago and is already dry. The colour of the wood shows this. Zambian trucks in most instances carry Rosewood heading to China.”

A consignment of Rosewood consists of approximately 144 cubic centimetres of trunks valued at N$9 000 each and costs roughly N$432 000 per load.

“It is my job to load and transport cargo. Otherwise I don’t I have the means to put food on the table. The transport industry is of such a nature that if I do not take a load, the next company or driver will do so gladly. I pay N$49 000 per year to have my truck licenced and to keep it on the road. In addition, I also pay 44 cents per kilometre in mass distance charges. This amounts to me spending between N$75 000 and N$100 000 without diesel, breakdown and insurance costs.”

Herridge also dispelled allegations that drivers are deliberately avoiding checkpoints.

“We have to produce our permits anytime it is requested by officials,” he said.

With regards to trucks seen along the side of the road, he said “Trucks experience mechanical failures. Long distance drivers usually pull from the road to rest/sleep or go to a toilet. I have however, noticed trucks on the road that are definitely not roadworthy. It is strange how these drivers and owners get through test stations and road blocks. However, resolving this issue lies with the authorities.”

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