By Abdi Hussein
Police officers are on spot for abetting Illegal logging and charcoal business in Kajiado county despite the ministry of Environment total ban.
Two years ago, the Ministry of Environment imposed a charcoal ban in a bid to curb deforestation and minimise environmental degradation but the ban seems infective in most parts of Kajiado County.
Hundreds bags of charcoal are ferried daily via Namanga road and through several clandestine routes to satellite towns and Nairobi.
A spot check indicates between 50-80 motorcycle riders transport four bags of charcoal per trip each.The number is said to shoot at night past the curfew time.
Most riders are paid a handsome commission to ferry bags of charcoal to traders stores in various urban centres.
“It is a lucrative business. You cannot succeed in this business without the blessings of the local police officers. In case you don’t give bribe, they confiscate your luggage,” said Motorcycle rider who makes two trips per day.
The unscrupulous charcoal traders have changed tactics of operations with charcoal kilns lit at night.
Mostly they are targeting private lands away from the government forest.Kajiado central, West and Mashuru sub counties are most affected.
In Mailua group ranch,Kajiado central sub county despite the ranch Management frantic efforts to curb charcoal burning the trade thrives.
Charcoal traders are said to approach individuals in disguise they are clearing bush for agricultural land but ideally they are targeting indigenous trees for charcoal burning and firewood.
Indeginous trees known for medicinal value are destroyed not sparing vegetation important for wildlife conservation.
The ranch secretary Jackson Matasua said the war on illegal logging and charcoal burning is far from over blaming police officers for abetting the menace.
The management have in the past conducted sensitization classes against charcoal burning for their members but allure for quick money takes a toll on them.
“Our efforts to stop charcoal burning in our ranch are futile; culprits are always released by police officers after arrest. We have tried to minimize the illegal logging but it is still there,” said Marasua.
Mr Marasua says there is a well-orchestrated charcoal burning cartel involving some powerful government officers. They want the Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko to intervene.
With a bag of charcoal retailing at between Sh 2,500-3,000 in urban centres,the business remains lucrative and well protected by the prayers.
However,Mashuru Subcounty Deputy county commissioner Wafula Barasa said security agencies in partnership with Kenya forest service officers have a mandate to curb illegal logging.
He sent a stern warning to the few individuals behind charcoal burning in the region terming them as selfish individuals responsible for wanton destruction of forest cover.
“Recently we apprehended several charcoal transporters and were arraigned in court. We will not relent in our push to curb illegal logging. We have directed all chiefs and their assistant to be on the lookout,” said Barasa.
In Kitengela,Ngong, Kiserian and Ong’ata Rongai Kajiado satellite towns,charcoal business is booming with traders stores full to capacity.