Illegal logging of the endangered Afzelia Africana species is taking place in West Nile Sub-region under the watch of law enforcement agencies such as police and the National Forestry Authority (NFA), Daily Monitor has learnt.
In Mt Kei Central Forest Reserve in Yumbe District, police officers are accused of offering protection to the illegal loggers.
An illegal logger, who requested anonymity, told Daily Monitor that they get authorisation from NFA officials and police after paying money.
“We pay money to NFA officials who allow us to enter the forests to cut the logs but later when we are transporting the logs, the same officers connive with the police to impound our trucks and also extort money from us. We face double expenses, sometimes both police and the NFA officials demand for more than Shs2 million,” he said on Monday.
The concern came after a truck ferrying Afzelia Africana logs from Mt Kei forest reserve was impounded last month by police under the directive of the resident district commissioner (RDC). The truck is currently parked at Koboko Central Police Station. Capt Yahaya Kakooza, the RDC, said the owners of the truck will be prosecuted in courts of law.
Police, NFA speak out
The District Police Commander, Mr Hashim Kasinga, denied allegations that police officers have been extorting money from illegal loggers.
“We are not here to extort money but to protect forests. Let those with evidence come to police and register a case,” he said.
Mr Simon Peter Kidega, the NFA manager for Mount Kei Central Forest Reserve, also said he was not aware of cases of their staff extorting money from illegal loggers.
“If truly there are allegations that officers from NFA have been extorting money, why haven’t they taken the legal procedure to register a case against such officers? These people just want to tarnish our image,” he said.