David Pulkol, who is in charge of giving technical advisory support to the team, says the boda boda riders carry bags of charcoal from northern Uganda across Karuma, where they are loaded on trucks and transported to central Uganda.
Illegal charcoal trade has continued to
boom in Northern Uganda with the support of boda boda cyclists.
In May, President
Museveni issued Executive Order Number 3 of 2023, banning charcoal trade in
Northern and Eastern Uganda, to bring an end to the indiscriminate cutting of
trees and its subsequent effect on the environment.
Following the ban, leaders in the
affected areas embarked on impounding tracks carrying charcoal and levying
fines on the owners.
However, a report from the Inter-Ministerial
Technical Committee instituted to investigate the extent of the charcoal trade
and affected area, has found that traders use boda boda riders to transport
bags of charcoal to designated places where they are loaded on tracks.
David Pulkol, who is in charge of
giving technical advisory support to the team, says the boda boda riders carry
bags of charcoal from Northern Uganda across Karuma, where they are loaded on
trucks and transported to central Uganda.
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Charcoal traders prefer charcoal from indigenous
tree species that take decades to mature. This has raised concerns about the
ability to sustain the growing charcoal demand and its environmental impact.
According to the National Charcoal Survey
of 2015, northern Uganda produces 40.9 percent of charcoal that is supplied across
the country, making it the biggest supplier of charcoal in the country.
Charcoal remains the fuel most used by
households in Uganda.
Pulkol notes that the forests are facing
severe pressure, because of demands from other countries such as Kenya which
also banned the charcoal trade, and some industries, due to the fair prices of
charcoal in nearby towns and urban centers.
He expressed disappointment that as the
team moved around to ascertain the magnitude of the illegal trade, they found leaders
who should be enforcing the ban engaged in charcoal trade deals.
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Pulkol reveals that the traders cheaply
hire huge chunks of land and indiscriminately harvest all the trees.
He advised the Ministry of Water and
Environment to ensure that those who want to engage in large-scale charcoal production
should plant their own trees to be turned into charcoal.
Pulkol also notes that the private
sector should skill the locals to turn agricultural wastes into charcoal briquettes,
to reduce the pressure on trees.
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As the country finds ways to ban illegal
large-scale trade in charcoal, Pulkol suggests that an independent body should
be instituted to fight the vice, just like it was done with illegal fishing.
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Francis Akorikin, the chairperson of
Kapelebyong, agreed that charcoal business should be made expensive, saying
trees that have lasted several years are being sold cheaply, yet they are hard
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Williams Ayama, the LCV Chairperson Moyo argues that there is a need
to clarify how many sacks of charcoal constitute a commercial quantity so that
it is easy to implement the ban.
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It is estimated that Uganda loses more than 500,000 acres of forests
every year. The rate of forest destruction is equated to deforesting 43 football
pitches every hour.