Gulu, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Deputy Inspector General of Police, Maj. Gen Geoffrey Katsigazi Tumusiime, says that the police are waiting for clear guidelines from the Environment Ministry to effectively implement the ban on charcoal production and trade in the Acholi Sub-region.
The Ministry of Water and Environment issued a directive in February this year banning the issuance of documents facilitating the commercial production and transportation of charcoal and forest products in the region, following the escalating charcoal business that has resulted in the destruction of a large swathe of the natural environment.
Despite the ban, trucks ferrying hundreds of bags of charcoal have been moving out of the region, causing protests from environmental activists, and traditional and political leaders. Speaking to the press during his visit to the Acholi Sub-region, Gen Katsigazi said that clear guidelines from the Ministry will help the police to effectively implement the current ban on charcoal trade in the region.
He proposed a total ban on the trade, which would be implemented once the Ministry agrees to it in their guidelines.
The Deputy IGP’s visit comes amidst a backlash against the police by environmentalists and leaders in the Sub-region, who accuse some personnel in the institution of siding with commercial charcoal dealers. Katsigazi reiterated that the police as an institution do not have any interest in the charcoal business in the region, and noted that if interests are from individual police officers, they will be investigated and prosecuted.
The police have actively been engaged in the implementation of the ban on the charcoal trade ever since the directive was issued by the Ministry of Environment, said Aswa River Region Police Commander Damalie Nachuha.
Several trucks loaded with charcoal have been impounded in a number of operations conducted in Amuru and Lamwo Districts, but exact data to back the claims was not provided. Former Aruu County Member of Parliament Samuel Odongo Otto and Kilak South Member of Parliament Gilbert Olanya have intercepted trucks loaded with charcoal and destroyed a number of charcoal production camps in the region.
The National Environment Management Authority (Nema) issued a directive earlier this month calling enforcement agencies to crack down on commercial charcoal business, calling it illegal. Nema maintains that the authority hadn’t issued any certificate of approval to the commercial charcoal dealers in the country contrary to Section 157 of the NEMA Act.