The ban on the multimillion charcoal trade in Kitui was partially lifted yesterday by the Kenya Forest Service. Lifting the ban, KFS coordinator John Njoroge said trade and transportation of charcoal will only take place from dawn to dusk.
"There will be no dealing and transporting of charcoal under the cover of darkness. This is a clean business so long as the law is followed to the letter. But for now, only seven Charcoal Producing Associations from Mutitu and Mutomo are allowed to produce charcoal," said Njoroge.
Njoroge, who held a meeting with the CPA officials at the Kitui forest service offices, warned that any individual dealing with charcoal outside the seven associations will be committing a criminal offense and will be prosecuted.
Kitui deputy police chief Moses Kanyi said the police will enforce the law governing charcoal trade to the letter. "The police will hold you criminally liable if you allow charcoal trade or transportation at night. Since most criminal activities take place in darkness, you should avoid transporting charcoal in the night not to be arrested for abating crime," Kanyi told the charcoal associations.
Since the ban on charcoal production and selling was imposed in Kitui eight months ago, the government reportedly lost Sh160 million in revenue. The Kitui County Council's lost Sh4 million in taxes levied on charcoal dealers and transporters.
Statistics indicate that the KFS lost Sh16 million in monthly charcoal permits. The ban affected the livelihoods of 50 per cent of the population in charcoal producing districts.
Njoroge said charcoal production will only be allowed on the basis of a balance between livelihoods and environmental conservation. He said emphasis will be laid on sustainable charcoal production.