Gulu, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Acholi Paramount Chief Rwot David Onen Acana II has faulted local leaders in the region for fueling the rising cases of environmental destruction.
Rwot Acana says local leaders from the village level up to the district are actively engaged in issuing receipts, movement documents and authorization orders to environmental degraders in the region.
His statements come in the wake of the growing charcoal and timber trade that has seen vast tree covers in the region cut down.
Rwot Acana described the local leaders whom he didn’t mention by name as the worst people dragging the region backwards through their acts of assisting in cutting down trees.
He warned that such leaders engaged in the vice should voluntarily back off from aiding the destruction of the environment.
Rwot Acana says the vice is also being precipitated by greed for money that has made leaders in the region lose the sense of protecting the environment for the future.
He says cultural leaders at the Acholi cultural institution will soon embark on discussions whose resolutions will then be forwarded to the respective leaders in the region for the enactment of a bylaw that comes with penalties for environmental offenders.
Late last month, the police arrested a cultural chief in Agago district for allegedly cutting down several endangered Shea nut tree species for charcoal production. The suspect identified as Jimmy Olum was picked from Kuywee trading centre in Kuywe sub-county and detained at Wol police post.
Environmentalists in the region however say environmental crimes are jointly being abetted by local leaders and security personnel in the respective districts in the region.
Arthur Owor, the coordinator of the environmental justice pressure group “Our trees we need answers” and Director of Center for African Research told URN in an earlier interview that for long, security personnel have been involved in the logging and charcoal trade.
He says their investigations conducted in hot spot areas of logging and charcoal businesses implicated top security officers involved in the vice.
In May this year, the Deputy Inspector General of Police Maj Gen Paul Lokech while addressing mourners in Orom sub-county accused Resident District Commissioners and District Police commanders of their involvement in charcoal and log trade. Gen Lokech warned the security personnel whom he didn’t name to desist from the vice or face arrest and imprisonment.
Forest covers in the region have been steadily declining over the past years due to high demand for timber and charcoal despite several interventions put in place by the central and local government to curb the vice. The most targeted tree species are Shea nut trees and Afzelia Africana which have lucrative markets.