Residents’ torch charcoal truck in Kitui

Angry residents of Kitui County Wednesday torched a lorry intercepted ferrying charcoal to Nairobi at Kanyonyoo area along the Thika-Garissa highway.

The lorry was reportedly impounded alongside another and a pick-up truck on Wednesday evening but was left behind after developing mechanical problems as the others were escorted to Kitui police station.

Confirming the incident, Kitui County Commissioner Boaz Cherutich said police had launched investigations into the arson and warned the residents against taking the law into their own hands by destroying other people’s property.

He attributed the incident to alleged incitement by some local leaders, who he did not name, directing the youth to block off or even torch trucks ferrying charcoal to Nairobi especially along the Thika-Garissa highway.

We are aware that there are rogue leaders who have been going around the county ‘ordering’ the residents to impound charcoal trucks especially in Mwingi area and we will not allow this unlawful practice to go on, said the administrator.

They intercept the lorries, manhandle the drivers and make away with the cargo in the name of implementing the recently announced total ban on charcoal and sand trade in Kitui, he added.

On January 17, the county and national governments issued a directive banning all charcoal and sand businesses within the county to curb adverse climatic change and environmental degradation occasioned by the venture.

Governor Charity Ngilu revealed that charcoal traders transport a monthly average of 200,000 lorries of charcoal outside Kitui, an indication of massive destruction of local forests.

She also affirmed her administration’s commitment towards making the ban a success, adding that the decision was a turning point in saving Kitui from absolute environmental degradation.

We are keen to ensure that our forests and water sources are protected and preserved at whatever cost so that we can gradually reverse the adverse effects occasioned by charcoal burning and sand mining in our county, she said.

Mr. Cherutich warned the youth against taking the law into their own hands as it was not their duty to implement the ban or conduct crackdowns on illegal charcoal traders but that of security officers.

Let anybody out there contemplating to engage in the unruly activity stay warned that they shall be arrested and prosecuted in a court of law, he emphasized.

He, however, affirmed the national government’s commitment to work closely with the county administration towards effective implementation of the ban targeting the multi-million trade.

The county security chief also assured licensed charcoal transporters ferrying the commodity from Tana River County of their security as they traverse Kitui County.

Source: Kenya News Agency