Residents of Mwingi Town Tuesday barricaded the Mwingi-Garissa highway and offloaded all the charcoal from a lorry ferrying the commodity to Nairobi in a bid to fight the illegal trade which is seen as a major threat to the ecosystem in the region.
Other lorries which escaped the wrath of the angry mob had to seek safety at Mwingi Police Station.
This has brought a new twist to charcoal and sand business in the region.
Tuesday’s incident follows a directive by the Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu banning all charcoal and sand businesses within the county.
Last week, Governor Ngilu issued a statement banning all charcoal burning and sand harvesting in the county to curb massive destruction of trees and rivers in Kitui which has resulted in poor rains and perennial drought.
“We cannot sit and watch while rogue people continue ruining our environment. We must put an end to illegal charcoal burning and sand harvesting in Kitui county from today,” said Mrs Ngilu.
There has been public outcry in Kitui County following rampant illegal charcoal business which has seen many trees cut as clueless residents continue burning charcoal without planting trees.
Despite leaders coming out strongly to condemn the business, nothing much has been achieved as more lorries continue traversing the county purchasing charcoal from locals.
This is what has forced Mwingi Town residents to take drastic measures in ensuring the business does not continue under their watch.
Last week more than ten lorries ferrying charcoal were impounded in Mwingi and after a thorough inspection of the documents in the possession of the traders, only two were found to be operating llegally.
Mwingi OCPD John Nyamu said that police officers will remain vigilant to ensure that no one operates the charcoal business without proper authorisation.
“We won’t stop until we ensure that total sanity reigns in the charcoal and sand business in Mwingi Central Sub-County. Proper inspection will be done to lorries ferrying charcoal and sand in order to ensure that they are doing so within the confines of the law,” said Mr Nyamu.
Speaking to journalist in Mwingi, the group of youths who led the protest vowed not to allow any lorry ferrying either charcoal or sand to pass through the town.
“We are tired of seeing rogue people continue ruining our environment under our watch. We will allow no more lorries to pass through Mwingi with charcoal and sand from our land,” said the angry youths.