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Security Forces Intercept Trucks of Charcoal in Moroto :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Security Forces Intercept Trucks of Charcoal in Moroto

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Michael Longole, the Mt Moroto regional police spokesperson, confirmed the arrests, stating that they were carried out in line with the presidential directives. Those involved in the charcoal trade will face charges for violating the Forestry Act, as guided by the National Environmental Management Authorities.
Trucks loaded with charcaol parked at Moroto central police station

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In compliance with President Yoweri Museveni's ban on the charcoal business in Northern and Western Uganda, joint security forces have impounded six truckloads of charcoal in Moroto district. The trucks were intercepted during a weeklong operation along major routes in Napak and Moroto districts. President Museveni announced the ban in an executive order on May 19, 2023, as part of efforts to protect the environment. 

The joint security forces in the Karamoja sub-region immediately started enforcing the ban, despite mixed reactions from the public. Michael Longole, the Mt Moroto regional police spokesperson, confirmed the arrests, stating that they were carried out in line with the presidential directives. Those involved in the charcoal trade will face charges for violating the Forestry Act, as guided by the National Environmental Management Authorities. 

Longole added that the police, in collaboration with the district forest officers, have initiated community sensitization programs to raise awareness about the presidential orders regarding charcoal burning. However, the ban has generated criticism from some members of the public who argue that it will negatively impact the livelihoods of the Karimojong people, who heavily rely on charcoal burning as their main source of income. 

Martin Odong, an elder at Naitakwae sub-county asked the government to explore alternative ways of managing the charcoal business instead of imposing a complete ban. He argued that many families in Karamoja depend on charcoal burning for survival, and abruptly stopping it without providing alternative sources of income would adversely affect the population. 

Odong appealed to the government to empower the elders and revive traditional methods of conserving the environment that was in place before commercial charcoal burning became prevalent. 

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David Koryang, the LC5 Chairperson for Moroto district, argued that the charcoal business cannot be halted since it is the most affordable source of cooking fuel. He noted that previous attempts to pass ordinances at the district level to curb charcoal burning have failed due to widespread participation in the trade. 

Koryang also highlighted the community's expectation for the provision of essential household necessities if they were to stop cutting down trees for charcoal. Koryang suggested that individual responsibility for the environment should be encouraged, allowing wilderness areas to be exempted from tree cutting, as they cannot be effectively regulated.

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On the other hand, Ceaser Akol, the Moroto district speaker, acknowledged the long-standing practice of subsistence charcoal burning in the communities before its commercialization. He noted that this practice has led to environmental depletion, particularly impacting pastoralists who rely on water and pasture for their animals. Akol expressed concerns that corruption within law enforcement agencies could hinder the effective implementation of the ban.

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Joseph Lobot, the LC5 chairperson of Amudat district, highlighted the success of traditional norms in environmental conservation. The Pokot community, for instance, has established its own disciplinary measures for individuals who cut down trees without permission from the elders. 

Offenders are summoned before the elders' council and required to pay compensation in the form of a bull. Lobot expressed concerns about the invasion of the district by people from the Sebei and Bugisu regions who are engaging in tree destruction for charcoal burning, undermining the conservation efforts.    

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