Charcoal traders in Kajiado County were on Monday morning caught unaware, following a crackdown by the Kajiado Kenya Forest Service, Administration police and County Environment officials on charcoal burning and transportation.
The operation named ‘ Maliza Makaa’- to bring to an end further burning, transport and sale of charcoal in Kajiado county’ saw the officers confiscate more than 100 sacks of charcoal, at a charcoal distribution store in Il Bissil and Maparasha towns, and arrested five people.
One lorry, two saloon cars and several motorcycles ferrying charcoal were impounded at a road block, erected along the Nairobi- Namanga highway.
Kenya Forest Service County Conservationist, Stephen Kahunyo said the operation was aimed at halting the rampant destruction of trees in the county.
We have begun to take punitive measures against those who engage in charcoal burning, as well as those mutilating our forest. The wanton destruction of the environment in Kajiado County is so grave that it has contributed to the two year drought currently being experienced. We can’t negotiate on charcoal burning, said Kahunyo.
The County’s Chief Officer in charge of Environment James Sankale advised locals engaged in the charcoal business to look for an alternative source of livelihood.
We shall not accept to be told about livelihoods, while we are destroying our future. When you see the destruction in the farms, you will see why we are enforcing this total ban on charcoal, said Sankale.
Sankale said the raids will be intensified and will target the source of the charcoal, the transporters and the distributors.
Kajiado Central Deputy County Commissioner Charles Wambugu said police have been deployed in various panya routes used by transporters, and they would ensure full enforcement of the charcoal ban.
The operation has however been opposed by the charcoal sellers, who feel that they are being targeted unfairly.
Jane Naisianoi, a charcoal seller complained that the people felling trees and burning charcoal in the forests were known and yet they were not being arrested.
This is witch hunt, I have been practicing this exercise since the era of President Moi, Kibaki and now Kenyatta, and I have never faced this kind of harassment, they should go for those people whom we are buying in the forests we are not the ones cutting trees if truly they want us to stop this trade. a furious Naisianoi told KNA.
In February, Deputy President William Ruto imposed a 90-day moratorium on timber harvesting in all public and community forests, and directed National and County officers to ensure compliance.
Source: Kenya News Agency