Pader district leaders launch crackdown on charcoal dealers

Pader, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Pader district leaders have arrested and evicted nine people accused of cutting trees on a large scale. The nine were arrested in a crackdown on commercial charcoal dealers in Angagura sub-county.

Dickson Ojok, the LCV Angagura sub county, says the operation which started last month will end when the charcoal dealers have all been evicted from the area.

Ojok says the charcoal dealers, whose numbers are not known, have destroyed a number of indigenous trees in Aswa Ranch.

Stephen Freddie Okello, the LCIII chairperson of Angagura sub-county says those cutting trees massively came from other districts as charcoal buyers, but they have started burning charcoal.

Okello explains that besides destroying trees on a large scale, the bulk charcoal burners have now outcompeted the locals who were cutting trees with axes and selling only one or two bags.

Okello says those found burning charcoal on a large scale will be punished according to the law of the land and that of the cultural institution of Payira clan.

He adds that the confiscated logs will be burned by the villages, sold, and the money used for repairing broken water sources and other social amenities.

Okello reveals that another trick the commercial charcoal dealers use is that they buy land on the pretext of opening a farm, then they start felling every tree in sight.

He says the sub-county will hold a council meeting on May 27, to come up with laws to protect the environment and suitable punishment for both locals selling trees to the charcoal burners and the buyers.

George Onono, the Prime Minister of Payira Clan in Pader district says an estimated 5-6 square kilometers of land in the sub-county has been cleared off its trees.

Onono reveals that according to the laws of the Payira cultural institution, the perpetrators of deforestation in the sub-county will be charged 2 million shillings per shea nut tree and one million shillings for other tree species destroyed for charcoal.

There have been attempts at the local and national levels to stop the rampant tree cutting in northern Uganda.

In 2018, the Ministry of Water and Environment suspended the cutting and sale of endangered tree species such as shea nuts trees and Afzelia Africana.

In December 2021, clan chiefs in Agago district also launched a crackdown on charcoal dealers in the district.

However, the destruction of trees for charcoal continues on a large scale.

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