OTUKE- The Environmental Protection Police Unit (EPPU) seized and burnt to ashes more than 800 bags of charcoal during an operation against illegal charcoal trade in Otuke District.
The charcoal bags were collected from various burning points while others were found packed in people’s houses on Tuesday.
Mr Elias Kasirabo, the EPPU commandant, said the operation was part of a struggle against tree cutting in northern Uganda.
“We started from Nwoya District where we arrested 65 suspects, we went to Gulu, Omoro, Lamwo, Pader and Otuke,” he said.
Police had been carrying out engagements with communities to understand how to sustainably use the environment, Mr Kasirabo said, adding: “And this is another stage now of enforcement where we use the stick to tell people that this is a no-go zone area and we are being guided by the law.”
“It is surprising to know that use of gas is cheaper than use of charcoal. Why can’t people embrace gas such that we save the environment because the rate at which the climate is changing in Uganda is alarming,” Mr Kasirabo said.
He said if people tamper with climate they will get no resources to embrace the modern way of agriculture such as agroforestry.
“It is very sensitive and that’s why I am saying people must protect and sustainably use the environment so that we have a future to live. The future will judge us harshly if we don’t protect the environment,” Mr Kasirabo noted.
Mr James Okello, a resident of Ogaro-adu Village, Olilim Sub-county in Otuke, said: “They are burning the only thing that we are surviving on right now. We sell this charcoal to buy food because there is no enough rain to help us in farming.”
The Otuke Resident District commissioner, Mr Robert Abak, said residents should instead of threatening the environment embrace government programmes such as Operation Wealth Creation. “I call upon the citizens to look into their hearts and say no to environmental degradation,” Mr Abak said.