Nakuru — Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui has faulted the move by the National Treasury to remove import duty on timber products citing adverse effects the directive will have on the local timber industry.
Kinyanjui said the announcement by Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich to eliminate the existing 10 per cent import duty on raw timber will negatively impact on the timber industry in Njoro, Elburgon and Molo.
He noted that timber producers in the region were already hard hit by the ban on logging imposed in February last year.
Hundreds of people in three towns around Mau Forest Complex have been rendered jobless since the logging ban and poverty levels shot up, Kinyanjui said.
"With today's development, our saw millers will not maximize benefits from the Affordable Housing Agenda pie as timber required will mainly come from other countries," the Governor remarked on Thursday.
Kinyanjui advised the government to come up with other measures to attain its reforestation drive which aims at increasing the country's forest cover to at least 15 per cent by 2022.
He appealed to President Uhuru Kenyatta to look at other ways to address climate change matters and at the same time empower communities relying on the timber sector.
During a recent meeting with the Kenya Association of Manufacturers, Kinyanjui said poverty levels in Elburgon, a town that was entirely dependent on timber manufacturing was very high thereby causing insecurity.
"A child cannot be sent to the shops with a Sh200 note because they will be mugged yet the families were thriving before the logging ban," he said.
The governor welcomed the award of the Nairobi-Nakuru-Mau Summit Toll Road Project tender whose construction is expected to commence soon and significantly reduce traffic on the Nairobi-Nakuru highway.
Governor Kinyanjui however praised the CS for allocating a total of Sh1.1 billion for the development of a textile and leather industrial park - Naivasha Industrial Park - and Cotton Development subsidy.
He said the allocation of Sh1.7 billion to support the growth of SMEs in the manufacturing sector will create jobs for the youth.