KAMPALA, UGANDA: Police have commenced joint operations to enforce the presidential presidential ban on the export of timber, veneer and commercial production of charcoal, the force’s spokesperson SCP Fred Enanga has said.
The President of Uganda, Mr Yoweri Kaguta Museveni on May 24 issued a ban on the unsustainable harvesting of trees for timber and veneer exports and further guided that only Factories processing timber within Uganda for the production of plywood, furniture, and other value-added products, should be allowed to operate, but with sustainable tree planting and harvesting plans.
According to Enanga, the enforcement which begins with immediate effect will see timber traders, transporters, middlemen and locals engaged in the illegal trade of charcoal and timber be arrested for prosecution as per the order.
Enanga who was addressing journalists on Monday in Kampala said police and its sister security agencies have since begun enforcing the ban countrywide and called for cooperation from stakeholders engaged in the channel of distribution.
“As a result, all our territorial commanders, have with immediate effect been tasked to combat the illegal export of timber, destructive charcoal production, dealing and transportation, in close coordination with support teams from NFA, customs, Ministry of Trade, Local Governments, FIA and other Sister Security Agencies,” SCP Enanga said.
He added; “All timber traders, transporters, middlemen and locals, who often work in complex networks to facilitate the illegal transportation of timber across our land or water borders, are warned that it is now an illegality to export timber out of the country.”
Enanga explained that police task teams have been tasked to identify and target all timber trafficking hotspots, with emphasis on land, air and water border points, as well as big companies, criminal elites, politicians, and unscrupulous dealers, who will attempt to skirt the Presidential Directive.
“We, therefore, have zero tolerance towards anyone, who defies this executive order, by engaging in the illegal export of timber,” he concluded.
Experts say that if the government does not intervene to slow the rate of deforestation, the country’s National Environment Management Authority expects to lose all of its forests in less than 25 years. Almost all of the forests outside of protected areas have been cleared, according to studies.