Charcoal divides RPC Ezekiel, Omoro LC5 chairperson

Charcoal is now a lucrative trade in Uganda but now being restricted in some northern Uganda districts. File photo.

The Aswa regional police commander [RPC] Emitu Ezekiel has expressed his disappointment with the Omoro district leadership for lifting the ban against unregulated commercial charcoal business in the district.

 Dismayed police chief, without giving examples, opines that most of the districts within the region are implementing the by-laws and ordinances passed to protect endangered tree species from being cut and to regulate or enforce complete ban on commercial charcoal business in their areas.

He says this was to help reclaim the now destroyed environment via illegal charcoal burning by illegal traders.

All these, RPC Emitu Ezekiel said during an interview with our reporter this week from his office in Gulu town.

“The lifting of the ban by Omoro district is going to affect the operation of doing away with commercial charcoal dealers from this region as most of them are being chased away from other districts. We they will again come and camp in Omoro district carrying on with cutting of the trees and destroying the environment,” he noted.

“The leaders within this region should have team work and to employ other sources of revenue,” he added.

Mr. Emitu warned Omoro leaders against conniving with commercial charcoal and logs’ dealers who often bribe them.

However, in total rebuttal, Mr. Douglas Peter Okao – the Omoro district LC5 chairperson, in an interview with our reporter on phone Friday morning denied the accusation by the regional police commander who accused his leadership for lifting the ban.

Thus, the district chairperson said in the emergency council meeting held on 19, November, 2018, the council didn’t lift any ban against commercial charcoal business but the council put in place stringent measures against the business.

He says the council agreed that any truck found loaded with or transporting forest product be fined Uganda shilling 200,000 and that each bag of charcoal to be charged [fined] Uganda shilling 20,000.

Okao also added that the council resolved immediate arrest of the dealer, locals who are selling off raw forest products to these illegal traders.

Above all, he says those arrested will be prosecuted.

“Also to fight this, the council also resolved to establish road blocks [check points] at key hotspots Awere, Got- Apwoyo and comer Minjaa to net them,” the district chairperson reveals.

He however accused police for not being supportive; appealing for heavy deployment of environmental police protection unit in the district which he says lacks their services and input.

Some of the districts in Acholi sub-region, among them Amuru leaders have rejected cash bribe from anonymous charcoal dealer.

They have gone ahead to impose a ban on commercial charcoal trade following presidential directive to protect endangered tree species in recent years.

In Nwoya district, it has banned charcoal burning and destroyed over 3000 bags.

In one of his visits to Acholi sub-region this ending year, President Museveni was awed on seeing the rate forest [trees] was being destroyed.

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