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Police Impound Charcoal Smugglers in Teso

By Benjamin Epeduno

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A track that was impounded carrying charcoal in Katakwi district. PHOTO BY BENJAMIN EPEDUNO

The Environment Protection Unit of Police on the evening Wednesday 19th February, 2020 intercepted a truck, registration number UAZ 221 G carrying charcoal from Ongongoja sub county in Katakwi District.

Simon Peter Okoshi, the Assistant Commissioner of Police and the Deputy Commandant of Environmental Protection Unit says, the operation is targeting the cutting down of shear nut trees, Mango trees among other species.

AIP Okoshi adds that, the confiscated charcoal has been put to the police stores before the forestry officers in the district local government come to auction and banked money to the District local government’s account.

The AIP also disclosed that there are reported cases in the unit concerning Police officers being involved in the charcoal fraud.

He warned police from being involved in bribery saying that the law will play its part on an officer.

Records note that, the operation started this week but intercepted one lorry in Otuke, Amuria 150 bags and one track in Katakwi.

Stella Akello, one of the charcoal smugglers who was caught testifies that this is the third attempt they have been stealing charcoal.

Deforestation has already seen Uganda’s 5 million hectares (12.3 million acres) of forest in 1990 dwindle to 3.5 million by 2005. Now the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) has warned that if deforestation continues in Uganda at its present rate there will be no forests left in 40 years.

Despite these interventions, the country continues to lose forest cover at a very alarming rate. While for many years it was reported that Uganda was losing approximately 90,000 hectares between 1990 and 2010 of forest cover annually.

However, the recent studies conducted by Africa Natural Resources Institute indicate that forest cover loss has now increased to an estimated 200,000 hectares annually.

The situation is being blamed partly on Uganda’s booming population, which is growing at a rate of about 3.6% per annum. At that growth rate, by 2025 the population will almost be approximately to 63 million, close to that of Britain, which has a similar land mass where in 1950 UK had a population of approximately 50 million with an increment of 10 million in the year 2018.

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