Charcoal burning persists in Kwale despite logging ban, MP claims

Member of Parliament (MP) for Lunga Lunga in Kwale County, Mr. Khatib Mwashetani, has said illegal charcoal burning is still going on in the Constituency despite the 90-day logging ban issued by the government.

Mr. Mwashetani said the vice has reached alarming proportions as loggers were having a field day carting away hundreds of charcoal bags daily with impunity, at the expense of environment.

My constituency has become a hub of excessive charcoal production activities. A total of 11 trucks ferry the commodity out of the Constituency daily even after the government ban on logging and this must stop, he said at the weekend.

Speaking at Kenyatta Primary School grounds, Mwashetani blamed the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) officials in the area for the mess, accusing them of sleeping on their job.

The officials should get down to work and strictly enforce the ban to curb the menace posed by the illegal trade which is depleting forest cover in the Constituency, he added.

Lunga Lunga and Kinango Sub-Counties usually face severe droughts with uncontrolled charcoal burning being one of residents’ drought coping mechanisms.

In a bid to curb forest loss and degradation, the county formed Charcoal Producers Groups (CPGs), but reports indicate their current status is wanting as they are reportedly in chaos and disintegrating owing to leadership challenges.

The CPGs aimed at encouraging sustainable charcoal production but they are crumbling, a source at KFS said.

The charcoal burners have been felling indigenous trees with the most affected species being Mgololi, Mrihi, Acacia and Palia Kather which take many years to mature.

Conservationists warn that wanton destruction of local forests mainly in the lower dry areas has left them completely bare hence pushing the county to the brink of desertification which calls for urgent remedial measures.

Source: Kenya News Agency