Tana River Governor outlaws charcoal burning

Tana River Governor, Dhadho Gaddae Godhana, on Monday slapped ban, on charcoal burning in his county.

In a statement titled: ‘Executive order banning charcoal in Tana River County,’ Major Rtd. Godhana said those found carrying out the activity, would be prosecuted.

He called on all residents to join hands in the fight, so as to jealously protect the environment.

We must join hands with other leaders in the fight to safeguard our environment, he said in an apparent reference to his neighbour, Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu, who has also banned the production and transportation of charcoal in her county.

Godhana’s brief statement was issued after the he led other county leaders, in an education cum environmental function,at Boka Primary School in Bangale Ward.

The ban on charcoal burning comes in the wake of controversies involving, Mrs. Ngilu and charcoal traders form Kiambu.

Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu formally sued Mrs. Ngilu on Monday, for allegedly inciting Kitui residents to burn down vehicles ferrying charcoal from Tana River County to the Central Region.

Godhana’s ban has elicited mixed reactions from the county’s residents, who took to social media to air their views, with some supporting him and others, accusing him of denying his poor subjects a means of livelihood.

The Governor should have first provided alternative means of income and fuel, before banning the charcoal trade, said Mr. Issak Bile, one of the charcoal dealers.

Tana River has been the hub of charcoal trade in the Coast region, with authorities allowing charcoal production, only from the prosopisjuliflora (mathenge) tree and even forming charcoal producers’ associations.

However, with the high demand for the fuel in Kenya’s urban centres, charcoal producers have turned to other indigenous trees, to burn charcoal, leading to the destruction of indigenous trees in the poverty-stricken county.

Tana River County Conservator, Mr. Peter Kioko, said charcoal producers had been allowed to produce the fuel only from the mathenge tree, and noted that the trade had been thriving.

The county government is impressed with the revenue generated from charcoal production, he said in an earlier interview.

He however conceded that some rogue charcoal producers had turned to indigenous trees and warned that the Kenya Forest Service would not condone the practice.

Our efforts to arrest the rogue traders have been futile, as we have been accused of arresting them outside our borders, said Kioko.

Source: Kenya News Agency