15 June 2005

Kenya: Sawmillers Owe Sh56m in Royalties

Nairobi — Politicians are among sawmillers who owe the Government more than Sh56 million in royalties.

The sawmillers in Koibatek District owe Sh56,400,888, with Eldama Ravine MP Musa Sirma owing Sh24,271,618.20, while former Kuresoi MP James Koskei has not paid Sh4,877,170.

They harvested trees in forests before logging was banned.

District forest officer Joshua Charana has now sent notices giving the defaulters 21 days to pay up.

The letters were copied to the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources permanent secretary, chief conservator of forests and Rift Valley provincial forest officer.

Dated June 6, the letter to Mr Sirma, who operates under Awen Sawmills, said in part: "You owe the Forest Department (Narasha Forest Station, Koibatek Forest Station and Maji Mazuri Station ... twenty four million, two hundred and seventy-one thousand, six hundred and eighteen shillings and cents twenty."

The letter went on. "This debt is overdue and you are hereby given 21 days from the date of this letter to settle the whole amount without fail."

Separately, area district commissioner Wycliffe Ogalo has cautioned against illegal logging and charcoal burning.

He spoke at Maji Mazuri Girls School during the district tree planting day, where 5,000 seedlings were planted.

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