12 December 2005

Kenya: Forest Guards Seized Over Shooting

Nairobi — Three forest guards have been arrested after they were accused of misusing their firearms.

Reports claimed that the guards were on normal patrol at Mlango Moja on the Nakuru-Eldoret highway on Friday evening when they spotted a lorry transporting charcoal.

When they tried to stop the vehicle, its driver defied orders and sped off. One of the guards then fired at the lorry to deflate the front tyres, forcing the Uganda-bound lorry to stop.

The guards were disarmed, made to record statements at Makutano Police Station and then detained at the Eldama-Ravine Police Station.

Police said that after the lorry's tyre was deflated, the driver blocked the road on suspicion that those behind the shooting were highway robbers.

Other lorry drivers joined in and demanded that police arrest those behind the 3pm incident.

The lorry driver also demanded that he be compensated for the deflated tyre, which he said, cost Sh60,000.

It took the intervention of Rift Valley provincial police boss Everet Wasike who pleaded with the drivers to clear the jam after assuring them that the guards would be arrested. The jam was cleared on Saturday evening.

Four men and a woman have been arrested in connection with the illegal sale of timber in Nandi South District.

The five were seized after they were found ferrying timber to Nyanza Province without permits.

Two lorries which were used by the suspects to ferry the logs and poles were also impounded and detained at Kapsabet Police Station.

Nandi South district forest officer Timon Otieno said the dealers had earlier told foresters that they were licensed to transport firewood from Ceng'alo and Serengonik forests on the Nandi Uasin Gishu District boundary. But on checking the lorries, it was discovered that the timber worth thousands of shillings had not been cleared for sale.

Mr Otieno said the Government would seek to take possession of the vehicles to control poaching of timber in the district. Foresters found to collude with millers will face disciplinary measures, he said.

Early this year, forest officials and police in the area impounded illegally harvested timber worth millions of shillings destined for sale in Nairobi.

Mr Otieno also said that in the rainy season, thousands of seedlings will be planted in areas where the forest had been destroyed. He asked the community to lend a hand in conserving forests.

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