UGANDA GOVERNMENT IMPOSES BAN ON SALES OF ENDANGERED AFRICANA AFZELIA TREE PRODUCTS

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ASP Jimmy Patrick Okema, Aswa River Region police spokesperson

These unscrupulous businessmen would come from Kampala Capital City, which is located over 400 kilometers away in the southern region and go to unsuspecting local farmers and offer just shs.50000 shillings (about $US 14 dollars) for a tree of Africana Afzelia but would sell the logs from the tree at about shs.15 million Uganda shillings (about $US 4100 dollars) to exporters.

“The ministry in charge of environment has issued a very strong warning against trade on Africana Afzelia and shea tree products; which is a very serious issue in Acholi and West Nile sub-regions. This latest communication follows presidential directive earlier which warned Chief Administrative Officers (CAOs) on the vise”-PRO, Jimmy Patrick Okema.

“Our duty is the same role as other police officers except that we restrict our activities on crimes related to environment and put in measures to detect environmental degradation. We have a regional task force helping us in this work. There is total ban on trade on Africana Afzelia. We don’t allow any log to pass through”- ASP Mairu

GULU-UGANDA:  Police authorities in Aswa River Region have announced that the Uganda government has put total ban on sales of endangered tree species; Africana Afzelia, commonly known by its local name of beyo; and shea tree which is known locally as yaa.

This comes months after local authorities in the region raised an alarm at the rate at which the environment was being degraded by unscrupulous traders, including generals in the Uganda army, which destruction has had negative impact on climate and erratic rainfall patterns.

Africana Afzelia and shea tree species are only found in northern Uganda and parts of South Sudan. While Africana Afzelia is highly marketable and exported to the Far East countries like China fortimber, shea trees are being cut for charcoal business.

These unscrupulous businessmen would come from Kampala Capital City, which is located over 400 kilometers away in the southern region and go to unsuspecting local farmers and offer just shs.50,000 shillings (about $US 14 dollars) for a tree of Africana Afzelia but would sell the logs from the tree at about shs.15 million Uganda shillings (about $US 4100 dollars) to exporters.

They would buy a bag of charcoal from the region at about shs.15000 Uganda shillings (about US$ 4.00 dollars) but would sell the same bag in Kampala at shs.80000 Uganda shillings (about US $22.00 dollars). Some of the bags of charcoal are exported to neighboring countries like Rwanda and Kenya.

Although local leaders in the region had come out with ordinances banning sales of charcoal and logging of Africana Afzelia, they met little success as most of them received death threats from top government officials including army generals.

The news about the total ban on sales of Africana Afzelia logs was first announced to the media from the Northern Uganda Media Club (NUMEC) in Gulu town on Monday September 17, 2018 by Assistant Superintendent of Police, ASP Godfrey Mairu, the regional environment police officer and ASP Jimmy Patrick Okema, the regional police spokesperson.

“The ministry incharge of environment has issued a very strong warning against trade on Africana Afzelia and shea tree products; which is a very serious issue in Acholi and West Nile sub-regions. This latest communication follows presidential directive earlier which warned Chief Administrative Officers (CAOs) on the vise”, says Police spokesperson, Jimmy Patrick Okema. 

He says local authorities are restricted from issuing more than five transport permits to charcoal traders at the same time. It is our duty to protect the environment. He said the region is having no rain at the moment because we have destroyed the environment and warned that the region may be turned into a desert in ten years’ time if nothing is done to redress the vise.

“As long as our locals continue to sell these tree species, I can tell you that it will be difficult to stop the trade. We have to change the mindset of our people including local leaders”, says ASP Okema.

According to ASP Godfrey Mairu, the regional environment officer, the Regional Police Commander, Ezekiel Emitu, has embarked on regional tour sensitizing local leaders on the need to protect the environment by controlling the rate of deforestation and launchingcampaign to plant more trees.

“Our duty is the same role as other police officers except that we restrict our activities on crimes related to environment and put in measures to detect environmental degradation. We have a regional task force helping us in this work. There is total ban on trade on Africana Afzelia. We don’t allow any log to pass through”, says ASP Mairu.

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