Residents Hold Illegal Loggers, Impound Over 1000 Bags of Charcoal, Timber

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Residents of Lokung East in Lamwo Town Council and Lokung Sub County in Lamwo district have impounded over bags of charcoal, timber and a truck belonging to suspected illegal loggers. The over 1000 bags of charcoal and over 250 pieces of timber are believed to have been produced from trees indiscriminately cut in Omuwa, Paladiya and Aweno Olwiyo villages in Dibolyec parish in Lokung East Sub County.

The Lokung Sub County LC V Councilor, David Ocan Kasisi says they swung into action after receiving a tip-off from concerned residents indicating that close over 200 none residents led by Habib Mwanje had pitched camp in the bushes in Omuwa and were indiscriminately destroying the natural forest cover. 

According to Kasisi, although the majority of the loggers fled into the bushes, they managed to apprehend suspects and handed them over to the police for further investigations. He says they also impounded a truck registration number UAV 253M that was loaded with timber destined

for Kampala and destroyed numerous heaps of charcoal kilns and tree logs that had already been staked for charcoal burning.

Kasissi says that residents were saddened to discover that the loggers didn’t have permits or any documents from the District Forestry department or National Forest Authority permitting their activities and were operating under the protection of police and some local leaders.  

Joackim Ocan Opoka, the Lokung Sub County LC III Chairperson says that much as they banned commercial charcoal in the Sub County, enforcing the ban is still, a big challenge because the illegal timber dealers connive with some local leaders.

He says residents have since pointed accusing fingers at the Guriya East village LC I Chairperson, Charles Langoya Lubuya and David Okech Oroma, the Omuwa village LCI Chairperson for hiring out large chunks of land to the illegal dealers. 

According to Opoka, in 2017 the two LC I Chairpersons sought permission from the Sub County to clear large chunks of land for cultivation only to started hiring out land to illegal loggers. Opoka says similar incidents of illegal destruction of the environment and depletion of the natural forest cover has also been reported in Berlobo, Guriya East, Lelabul and Ywaya villages in Dibolyec parish.  

Opoka says that they are considering securing a court order to publicly auction the over 1000 bags of charcoal and 250 pieces of timber impounded from the illegal dealers.

Lamwo District Forest Officer, Michael Bongomin says that the incident comes barely a week after they notified the environmental police about the rampant illegal logging and charcoal burning in the sub-county where an operation was launched and unspecified bags of charcoal destroyed. 

Bongomin says during the operations the same illegal loggers were arrested, charged with illegal charcoal trade and cautioned not to continue with the illegal trade but to their dismay, the suspects have adamantly refused to comply and returned to engage in their illegal activity.