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Counties

Tobiko steps up war against Kajiado logging, charcoal

Boda boda
Boda boda operators transporting charcoal in Molo. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Kajiado administrators have been given express orders to stop logging and charcoal trade or be punished.

Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko has asked the county commissioner to rein in chiefs and their assistants taking bribes to allow logging despite having a nation-wide ban in place.

“It has come to my attention that some local administrators are colluding with unscrupulous charcoal burners in their areas of jurisdiction. I have ordered the county commissioner to rein in his juniors to stop illegal logging and charcoal burning forthwith,” said Mr Tobiko.

The CS singled out the indigenous trees, which he said have taken years to mature and have having medicinal value.

“We must protect our environment, especially in this time of erratic environmental changes. Some parts of Kajiado County are dry and further illegal logging will make the situation dire,” he added.

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Kajiado county commissioner Joshua Nkanatha said officers suspected of abeting charcoal burning in the region will have to explain their actions.

Kenya imposed a logging ban in 2018 that initially was expected to last three months during which time the Kenya Forest Service would be audited for management of forests.

Mr Nkanatha said operations will be stepped up in the enttire county to bar loggers.

“All chiefs and their assistant are on high alert to curb further charcoal burning in their areas of jurisdiction. We are profiling administrators suspected to be colluding with loggers for an action,” said Mr Nkanatha.

The CS was addressing residents at the weekend where he said his ministry was mapping out charcoal burning “hot spots”.

Kajiado central sub-county and part of Kajiado west sub-county are the most affected.

Felling of indigenous trees is rampant both in private land and in public forests. A spot check indicates charcoal business is thriving in the region as a clique of traders collude with unscrupulous police officers and administration officers.

A bag of charcoal is retailing at Sh900 in Ilbisil and Maili Tisa towns that remain the epicentre of the multi-million shilling illegal charcoal trade.

Charcoal is normally transported in the night together with quarry materials on trucks that ply Namanga road.

In the past, lorries linked to local politicians and senior police officers have been seen transporting charcoal under police escort.

Despite the government charcoal ban, the business is thriving in most Kajiado satellite towns.

In Kitengela and Isinya towns, for example, the business has normalised with a bag of charcoal retailing at Sh2,000 compared to Sh3,500 when the ban was first imposed almost three years ago.

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