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POLITICIANS AND POLICE SPEAK OUT ON ILLEGAL TIMBER SALES

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Mr.William Kyomya, the LC3 chairperson for Pakanyi sub-county, , said that he gave up dealing in timber because of harassment. He intimated to Saturday Vision in an interview that he gave up trade in timber three years ago because of  being harassed”,yhis how evsr is good news to the Uganda safaris industry .

Mr.Juma Okungo the Masindi District Police Commander says: “I am new in this place and I do not know anything about Kyomya’s former timber operations.”

When he was asked about a case in which a timber dealer, Akim Kabagambe, last month accused the Police of extortion, Mr. Okungo told Saturday Vision that the allegation against two Policemen had resulted into a charge. But Akim withdrew the case and wants the State Attorney to drop it.

“Kyomya accused the Policemen of demanding for money by menace,” says Mr.Okungo.

He further said that they have reduced cases of environmental abuse and that what they need is the support of the local people. If they are pro-conservation, the forests will survive and if they bring in politics, they will disappear.” If his prayer is answered then the Uganda safari/Uganda safaris or Uganda tours business will flourish.

Mr. Gonza,the acting NFA’s spokesperson , in a separate interview said that the penalties for people found participating in illegal timber deals include confiscation of the timber, a fine may be imposed and a prison sentence not exceeding three years. The illegal timber when confiscated is auctioned by NFA at Bugolobi in Kampala.

Where does the timber pass to reach the Kampala market?

According to a prominent timber trader, these enemies to the Uganda safari/Uganda safaris or Uganda tour sector that ferry most Illegal timber do transport it at night because it helps to ferry the timber when the people who watch for illegal activities are fewer on the road. He further intimated that sometimes sacks of maize and firewood are placed on top to cover and hide the illigal timber.

According to reliable sources, mahogany from Budongo and Bugoma (in Masindi) forests are the preferred timber. The two forests are home to endangered chimps and the Nahan’s Francolin bird which a femous Uganda safaris attractions perfererd by many tourists who safari to Uganda.

On the way to Kampala, the timber is stoped at a number of Police road blocks, sometimes in the company of forestry officials. According to a dealer who preferred tanonymity, is where they pay bribes ranging from Sh50,000 to Sh500,000 at each stop over. At the moment, the bulk of the timber is felled from Kibaale the home to the Uganda safaris favouright Chimps and Kyenjojo districts.

Davidson Madira, an official of the Department of International Aid, said that

in research undertaken recently by the organisation,  they discovered that most of  the timber from forests on private land and Government managed reserves such as Budongo Forest is ferried to Sudan through Gulu and Nimule to South Sudan.

“This is happening, yet it is against the law to export timber,” says Madira, adding that Uganda has a timber shortage. “The illegal timber traders do not pay taxes because exports go tax free. In some cases, the dealers pay some money to the district officials who clear the timber, but the traders under declare the true amount of timber.”The continuity if this dangerous activity will deplit the habitats of many Uganda safaris/Uganda tours attractions that duel in them and form  basis for many travellers to safari to Uganda for a Life time Uganda safari or Uganda tour

How Policemen pocket money from illegal timber dealers

In Nakasongola district at Kafu Bridge, there was an incident in which the driver folded money and dropped it down on the roadside after being flagged down by a Policeman. When the Policeman noticed the folded notes lying on the groung he waved off the truck carrying the timber and left it go, without checking it.These are also enemies to the Uganda safari business sector as well the climate and the general envirinment.

According to sources, this was a regular timber trafficker known to the Policemen, and had probably agreed with the police men how much he has to pay each time he ferries timber across River Kafu.

When asked, the Police spokesperson Judith Nabakooba said this is a matter that deals with the environment and referred Saturday Vision to Idhwege Taire, the commandant of the Environment Protection Force.

When contacted, Taire said, “Police road blocks have nothing do with timber,” adding that NFA spent a long time without an executive director, which has created a mess. “NFA has been the sick man of the environment sector, but now they have a head and we are going to rectify the situation.” The sooner this menece is solved,the better the future of the Uganda safari/Uganda safaris business sector in my understanding.

Lack of benefits sharing scheme to blame

The head of Nature Uganda, Achilles Byaruhanga, said that previously, forests were looked at as Government business.This is changing how ever, with the local communities getting involved, but timber, which is the most valuable resource from the forest reserves, is not shared with the communities.

Byaruhanga said, “They may not have all the revenue from the timber, but sharing of revenue creates appreciation,” he further added that communities are likely to promote sustainable use of the environment if they feel that they partly own the resource.

The extraction of timber is likely to result into plunder of the precious forests such as Budongo, with the bigger rewards going to the middlemen in Kampala a great threat/set back to the Uganda safari/Uganda safaris/Uganda tour or the Uganda tourism sector as commonly known. “If there is no forest, there is nothing to share,” says Byaruhanga.and to me it means to safaris to Uganda or Uganda tours. “Sharing benefits should be tilted in the favour of the local people in order to promote sustainable use of the environment.said Byarugaba.

Only then will Budongo continue to survive while helping communities to harvest its wealth and provide rain.”

The law on forestry

The National Forestry and Tree Planting Act, 2003 is the governing law for the forestry sector. It divides the sector into five different forest managers; National Forestry Authority (NFA) to manage the central forest reserves, the District Forestry Services responsible for the local government forests/local forest reserves, community forests managed by the community and forests on private land by the private land owners.

The very Act also established a Forest Inspection Division (forestry sector support department) to provide support to both the NFA and the District Forest Services.

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March 30th, 2013|Safari News|