GULU– President Museveni`s executive ban on commercial charcoal in Northern Uganda and Eastern Uganda has drawn mixed reactions among leaders.
In a letter dated May 19, Museveni banned commercial charcoal business in northern and north eastern Uganda, saying the charcoal dealers have endangered tree species like shea nut trees.
According to Museveni, the ban on commercial charcoal is to save the country`s environment but also save the image of the NRM party since the community now holds the security in contempt.
Museveni`s ban on charcoal is the third this year after the Ministry of Environment, and National Environmental Management Authority [NEMA] announced their own bans, targeting commercial charcoal business, yet the business still continues.
Samuel Odonga Otto, the team leader at Ribe Pi Paco, an environmental pressure group which has enforced previous bans in 67 spots in Acholi Sub region welcomed the ban saying, since it is an executive order, hopefully, the security will enforce it.
Otto, the former Aruu Member of Parliament, said that as environmentalists, they are willing to work with law enforcers to ensure that the environment is preserved and protected.
Michael Lakony, the Amuru district LCV chairperson said unless the awareness of the community is raised on the dangers of dealing charcoal business, the dealers will continue to engage the land owners, and buy trees from them, given that Uganda is a liberalised economy.
According to Lakony, many of the security personnel are using these bans to reap money out of the business since it has become risky and lucrative.
Anthony Akol, the chairperson Acholi Parliamentary Group [APG] welcomed the ban on commercial charcoal business, saying as leaders they had lodged their complaints against security operatives over their laxity in implementing the previous bans.
Akol, also the Kilak North Member of Parliament, said it is now upon the the local leaders to sensitise the masses, and make the charcoal business in the area riskier in order for the dealers to abandon it.
“Once the community members know that even the president is against commercial charcoal business, they will be at the center of implementing the ban, in the end protecting and preserving the environment,” Akol said.
Recently, during his regional tour, the deputy inspector of police, Geoffrey Tumusiime said previous bans didn’t have clear guidelines for enforcement.
Northern Uganda has been experiencing a surge in commercial charcoal business, losing hundreds of acres of forest cover to the illegal business.
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