ZIMBABWE Stock Exchange-listed timber processor, Border Timbers, this year lost 706 hectares of timber to 75 fires caused mainly by newly-resettled farmers, the company has said in its an
nual report. It said 93% of the fires were due to arson.
During the year under review, Border said group performance was below target. “The fire season was extremely taxing with 75 recorded fires leading to a loss of 706 hectares,” Border said. “Furthermore, of the 75 recorded fires, 36 occurred on the Charter Estate, illustrating the severity of the impact of the land invasions. It is important to note that 93% of the recorded fires were due to arson.”
The company said new technology in the form of state-of-the art fire trucks, rapid response strike units and specialised small tools, significantly enhanced its firefighting operations and prevented substantial destruction of the plantations, specifically Charter Estate.
During the period under review, Border Timbers failed to access cheap funds under the Productive Sector Facility (PSF) for most of the year, which contributed to reduced profits compared to the budget, while hyperinflationary conditions contributed adversely to the cost structure of the company.
Border’s financial results this year indicate a decrease in profit after taxation and an extraordinary item of nearly $12 billion. Selling price increases in both local and the export market lagged behind input costs, while the auction exchange rate rendered exports unviable.
The net result of all this was a further reduction in margins. In the report, Border expressed concern at government’s disrespect for the 2002 High Court rulings against all designations of its properties for purposes of acquisition. Last year government continued with its listings despite the court orders.
“The number of illegal settlers on the company’s properties continued to increase; this was the case in the Chimanimani properties,” Border said.
“It is, however, encouraging that some of these illegal settlers were subsequently evicted. The risks associated with these illegal occupations are evidenced by the numerous arson fires experienced during the year.”