Adjumani district officials have allegedly failed to implement the directives issued by Gen. Moses Ali, the First Deputy Prime Minister on logging in Zoka forest reserve.
Gen. Ali who doubles as the Adjumani West County Member of Parliament (MP) earlier directed that commercial production of charcoal and issuing of licenses for forest products in the district should be suspended. He also ordered that all temporary camps of loggers and charcoal burners must be closed with immediate effect.
The Deputy Prime Minister issued the directives during the visit by a delegation from the European Union, the State Minister of Water and Environment, Ms Beatrice Anywar to determine the level of forest destruction in Zoka central forest reserve.
But barely two weeks after the meeting, a truck loaded with 34 logs of the endangered Afzelia-Africana species was intercepted at Pachara sub county in Adjumani district by the local residents.
Mr. William Omach Kitara, a resident of Amuru district also the owner of the logs confessed to having been in the logging business in Adjumani district for the last three years.
Omach revealed that he has been spending a lot of money to pass roadblocks managed by police, a reason he wants to recover his money by continuing with the business.
However, Mr. Peter Taban Data, the Adjumani resident district commissioner (RDC) directed the police to arrest the logger who is still on the run.
“I am waiting for the district to avail us with the list of loggers and charcoal burners and their location so that we can swing in action,” the RDC promised.
Mr William Amanzuru, the coordinator friends of Zoka, a civil society organization fighting against environmental abuse said the district has lost in its game after a pronouncement by the First Deputy Prime Minister.
“My expectation is that the district should have acted by arresting the loggers on spot, but to my dismay, they watched the loggers as they continued destroying the trees even after Gen. Ali’s directives,” Amanzuru stated.
Amanzuru said the logging business is not done by the locals but it is well connected with big people in government.
Meanwhile Mr Jack Byaruhanga, the Adjumani chief Administrative officer confirmed that following the pronouncement by Gen. Ali, the district is still reorganizing itself. But he noted that they have already suspended issuing of new licenses for logging.
Byaruhanga said they are now considering reinforcing patrols and also carrying out community sensitization meetings in the sub counties of Pakele, Itirikwa and Ukusijoni on the same matter.
The CAO warned that any enforcement officer who goes against the directives issued by Gen. Ali will be heavily punished by his office.