A multiagency operation seized bags of charcoal in Kajiado County as efforts to end charcoal burning and logging intensify.
The team impounded the charcoal in farms, distribution stores and on transit on the Kajiado-Namanga Road.
The operation, which serves to enforce last week’s ban on illegal charcoal trade in the county by Governor Joseph ole Lenku and County Commissioner David Kipkemei, is in line with Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko’s ban on logging.
The county’s environment department, Kenya Forest Service and a joint contingent of Kenya Police and Administration Police officers raided the several depots in Kajiado Central and arrested the dealers, catching the public unawares in Ilbissil where they impounded several transportation lorries.
“The wanton destruction of the environment in Kajiado County is so grave, contributing to the two-year drought currently experienced in the county.
“We cannot negotiate on charcoal burning,” Kenya Forest Service Conservationist, Stephen Kahunyo, said, noting that the operation is meant to halt rampant destruction of trees in the county.
The county’s chief officer in charge of environment, James Sankale, advised locals engaging in the trade to look for alternative sources of livelihood.
“We will not accept the excuse of provision for livelihoods as we destroy our future. Seeing the destruction in the farms, you will realise why we are enforcing this total ban on charcoal,” Mr Sankale said.
He added that the raids will be a three-pronged operation targeting the source of the charcoal, the transporters and the distributors.
“We know some vehicles belonging to some companies that get raw materials from Kajiado are used to ferry charcoal. They are also on our radar,” he warned.
In the same breath, Kajiado Central Deputy County Commissioner Charles Wambugu said police have been deployed in the various secret routes used by transporters to keep watch.
“We must eradicate this illegal business at all costs,” he said.
The cutting down of trees to make charcoal is one of the leading causes of depletion of forest cover, which in turn adversely affects water towers and causes severe outcomes such as drought.
Deputy President William Ruto recently formed a task force to interrogate the situation and come up with solutions to control the menace.
Mr Ruto imposed 90-day moratorium on tree harvesting and logging.