BITTER rivalry among mobile saw-millers operating in timber plantations in Nyanga has gone terribly wrong after some of the millers ignited the fire that destroyed irrigation pipes, water tanks, potato seed storage shades as well as thousands of hectares of plantations, flora and fauna in an apparent act of sabotage, it has emerged.
Property and vegetation was destroyed by the raging fires that started last week in several areas surrounding Troutbeck Resort in Nyanga district.
On Tuesday when The Manica Post visited the area, Parks and Wildlife personnel and villagers in some of the affected areas were yet to put out the fire more than a week since it started.
Many of those interviewed were reluctant and afraid to share their knowledge on the possible causes of the fire. However, it has since emerged that rivalry among saw-millers resulted in one group igniting the fire to fix rivals who had won tree cutting contracts.
Environmental Management Agency district extension officer Mr Daniel Manzou said they had gathered that rivalry among saw-millers had resulted in the burning of forestry areas as they sought to outplay each other in business.
“From what we have gathered on the ground, the fire was started as a result of conflicts on contracts relating to cutting of trees by saw-millers. It is strongly believed that saw-millers started the fire after being frustrated out of a tree cutting contract.
“We really want to urge people in affected areas to make police reports and present whatever evidence they have.
“They will remain anonymous if need be. All we want is to preserve our environment,” he said.
Mr Manzou said since last week they had reports of three different cases of veld fires that extensively damaged irrigation equipment as well as flora and fauna in Nyanga.
“So far we have received reports of veld fires from Matema area that people had been failing to put out since last week. About 700ha of gum trees were destroyed.
“We also have another similar report from Troutbeck area and while they have managed to put it out in that area some remnants of it are still visible around Gleneagles area where the fire has since moved.
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