Harare — Harare residents who use firewood have urged Government to provide alternative sources of energy to enable them to cook and provide lighting in their homes following a ban by Harare City Council on the illegal movement of firewood in the city.
It also emerged yesterday that the major users of firewood in the city were farm brick moulders who do their business in the quietness of the forests surrounding Harare. No firewood roadblocks were seen in the city yesterday but firewood traders were seen engaged in brisk business, especially in Mbare and Epworth.
People carrying firewood were also observed as well as security guards carrying loads of firewood on bicycle carriers. Harare City Council issued a statement early this week banning the movement of firewood in the city without a permit and also announced that firewood roadblocks would be mounted around the city as part of measures to curb the indiscriminate cutting-down of trees. Yesterday the council, Forestry Company and Environmental Management Authority officials held a meeting in the city to discuss the movement of firewood.
Details of the meeting were not available by late yesterday. In the city's suburbs yesterday, brisk firewood business was seen with stallholders cutting and packaging pieces of firewood ready for the market. In Mbare, Mr Charles Dete, who together with four colleagues operate firewood stalls along Pazarangu Street, displayed a permit from the Forestry Company and an operating licence from Harare City Council.
He paid $500 000 to the Forestry Company to be accredited. For each load of firewood he brings, he pays $500 000 to the commission. Mr Dete said he also pays $9 million to the city council every month in rentals. Mr Dete said he buys his firewood from farms as far as Mhondoro and Chivhu, usually from new farmers clearing land for cultivation.
Mr Givemore Katiyo, who also operates a firewood stall alongside Mr Dete, said the traders had formed a committee that ensures that unaccredited persons do not trade. Mrs Anna Gumbura of Mbare who uses firewood said if provided with alternative sources of power, she would resort to other forms.
"If they can provide other forms of power, I would be glad to switch to those. More so, firewood is more expensive than electricity. If they can provide us with constant electricity supplies, the better," she said.
She was supported by Mr Anorld Makore of Sunningdale who suggested that public awareness programmes on alternative sources of power should be encouraged. He said instead of targeting domestic firewood users, the city council and its partners should carry out a blitz on farm brick moulders.
"They use tonnes of firewood every day, but there seems to be no action taken against them," he said. By August, the Forestry Company had licensed three operators in Mbare and Glen Norah. Acting Forestry Company operations manager Mr Abednigo Marufu said although clearing land for farming purposes was legal, some individuals were
taking advantage to cash in on increasing firewood demand.