In Gabon, top officials suspended for ‘kevazingo’ timber trafficking

The chief of staff of the Ministry of Water and Forests and that of the Economy, as well as other people, are suspended from their duties following suspicions of complicity in a kevazingo traffic, a rare timber banned from exploitation.

The results of a survey entrusted to the Directorate General of Counter-Interference and Military Security have so far noted serious and inadmissible dysfunctions, as well as active and passive complicities in water and forestry administrations and customs, said Nanette Longa-Makinda, spokesman of the Gabonese government.

Nearly 5,000 cubic meters (177,000 cubic feet) of kevazingo worth some 7.0 million euros ($7.8 million) was found in two depots belonging to Chinese companies in the Libreville port of Owendo in late March.

The wood had been sealed by the courts.

Part of the kevazingo was loaded into containers bearing the stamp of the Ministry of Water and Forests indicating a shipment of okoumè, a timber species that are permitted for use.

After the discovery of falsified documents related to the sealed timber, the head of the ministry at Owendo port and his team, suspected of involvement in the trafficking, had been arrested.

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