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Minister encourages use of gas to save forest cover

FILE PHOTO: Gas cylinder

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Water and Environment Minister Sam Cheptoris has suggested that the government considers exempting taxes from all gas products and distributes gas cylinders at discounted rates in order to reduce the destruction of forests.

Cheptoris says that the initial price of gas cylinders is a key hindrance to the use of gas in Uganda. He says several Ugandans who use charcoal pay between 60-100,000 Shillings, yet the same amount can be used to refill a gas cylinder. A 6-kilogram Gas Cylinder and Gas costs between 150,000 and 200,000 Shillings and is refilled at 60,000 Shillings.

Cheptoris says that Uganda needs to borrow a leaf from Kenya where the government has distributed gas cylinders at a heavily discounted rate. He was speaking to Uganda Radio Network in an interview.

The Kenyan Government rolled out a gas project dubbed Mwananchi Gas Project where a 6 Kg complete cylinder of gas, a burner and grill are distributed at a discounted price of 2000 Kenya Shillings (70,000 Uganda shillings) to households who would otherwise not afford it.

This move is aimed at enhancing the use of gas in Kenya from 10 to 70 per cent. It also to reduce deforestation, reduce respiratory diseases from firewood among others.   He says since many Ugandans rely on trees for charcoal and firewood, having a strategy that can implore many people to start using gas will discourage tree cutting.

Cheptoris proposes that Ugandans could start growing bamboo trees which are quick growing but also provide good fuel. He says this will help especially people in the rural areas who have been using firewood.

According to Cheptoris, Uganda’s forest faces a huge challenge with the growing population and increased human activity. Estimates show that Uganda loses up to 200,000 acres of forest cover annually.

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