YUMBE. Leaders of Yumbe district in collaboration with National Forestry Authority (NFA) and the community have impounded three trucks which were transporting charcoal to Kampala.
The three trucks were intercepted over the weekend and later parked at Yumbe Central Police Station awaiting legal inquiries from police and court.
In Tuesday’s taskforce engagement, two suspects were arrested and detained at Yumbe Central Police Station.
West Nile regional police officer in charge of environment, Mr Joel Dongo is allegedly being cited in the illegal charcoal business in Yumbe.
According to the Resident District Commissioner Yumbe, Ms Caroline Angolere, some of the movement permits presented have forgeries as they have confused details.
“The movement permits issued were not corresponding to what is required by law and that’s why we have been keeping these trucks here for us to do more investigation, especially with issuing officers and the owners”, Angolere noted.
The district leaders and NFA complain that illegal charcoal business in Yumbe has led to invasion of Kei forest reserve for both charcoal burning and other tree products.
The truck registration number UAL 944D, blue in color is claimed to be transporting charcoal belonging to ASP Joel Dongo but his arrest had not yet been effected by press time.
NFA West Nile regional Range manager, Mr Robert Owiny said he has got information from many locals about ASP Dongo’s engagement in the illegal charcoal business in Yumbe.
“There are complaints from the community pinning the OC environment Police in charge of West Nile in charcoal business. Local leaders and community members are claiming that the officer is involved in charcoal business in the blue truck”, Owiny said.
He added, “We are going to have the case investigated by police and later to court so that he answers to his actions”
One of the drivers who was arrested along confessed that he has been transporting charcoal for many people on condition that the owner gives him legal documents before he leaves for Kampala.
“I don't know how the things are done, but what I know is that at the end of the day, I get documents and move on”, the driver said.
Yumbe district Police Commander, Mr Charles Okoto said the issue is under investigation and warned officers participating in the business to desist from it as they will be held accountable for their actions.
Similarly, the RDC warned that any police officer involved in illegal charcoal business in Yumbe will be dealt with lawfully.
Owiny stressed that the scale of commercial charcoal business has skyrocketed in West Nile in which Yumbe district is among the leading districts producing charcoal and participating in illegal logging from forest reserves.
He disclosed that majority of the trucks move at night, despite the law prohibiting movement of forest products at night.
Yumbe district Forest Officer, Mr Khemis Ambaga said some of the charcoal is obtained directly from individual farms, hence posing challenges in tracing illegal charcoal business operators in the district.
The operation against illegal charcoal business in Yumbe district started on 12th of March when the district formed the forest protection task force comprising police, NFA and local government leaders chaired by the resident district commissioner.