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Charcoal ban still stands, County Commissioner

Baringo County Service Delivery Committee has formed a Multi-agency Team, to deal with charcoal burners who they noted have massively destroyed the fragile environment, leading to drying of rivers and other water bodies.

The Multi-agency Team of officials from Forest Department, environment, the police, County Government and Marigat Deputy County Commissioner’s office that is supposed to commence work immediately, has been directed to crack the whip on all unscrupulous dealers illegally producing and transporting charcoal.

Chairing a County Service Delivery Committee meeting, Thursday, County Commissioner, Abdirisack Jaldesa, reiterated that the ban on charcoal burning on both community and private lands was still in force.

The Committee noted that the massive destruction of trees, especially acacia species known for production of nutritious pods for livestock, has become an eyesore.

“The cutting down of trees  in catchment areas has led to serious conflict between farmers upstream and those in lower zones because rivers providing irrigation waters have dried up completely. Only patches of water are seen in river beds,” commissioner said.

The destruction of the ecosystem, the committee was informed, has resulted in sharp reduction of population of bees and nectar production, almost bringing down the lucrative honey enterprise.

“About 200 boda boda riders ferry on average 10 bags each to Nakuru city from Marigat town and its environ every day. Each sack is going for Sh 1,800 translating to millions of shillings collected by the illegal dealers,” the Administrator noted.

On charcoal burning from Prosopis popularly known as ‘Mathenge’, the committee noted that an approval was not granted by the government as requested by land owners association last year to be allowed to harvest the invasive weed for charcoal burning.

The Committee also stated that there was no policy in place to legalize and regulate charcoal burning thus even collection of cess by county government from those transporting charcoal should not be there.

During last year’s National World Desertification and Drought Day celebration held at Eldume Primary School grounds in Marigat,  the then Forestry CS Keriako Tobiko, assured farmers whose farms have been colonized by prosopis plant that the government is about to lift ban and embark on elimination of the invasive weed.

Tobiko said the government is ready to deal with the Mathenge trees once and for all once a National Strategy and Action Plan enacted laws in the cabinet that must be adhered to the letter.

On land grabbing, Jaldesa said that all illegally and irregularly acquired public utility land in all urban centres must be repossessed immediately.

He asked the County government to map out all the grabbed lands and immediately institute measures for them to be returned to the government to be used for originally intended purposes.

Jaldesa added that the government flagship project of Affordable Housing, will not realize its objective unless the grabbed lands are repossessed.

By Joshua Kibet

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