Nyagatare – Strict restrictions on charcoal burning by Nyagatare District authorities have led to a hike in charcoal prices, a mini survey by Business Times shows.
A sack of charcoal has shot up to Rwf10, 000 from Rwf6000 in recent days.
“The district recently put tough restrictions on charcoal dealers. The new rules have discouraged many and most of them have already left the business,” said one of the charcoal dealers at Nyagatare market.
The new prices are even higher than in Kigali City, where a sack goes for Rwf8,000.
“The district should revise ways of subsidising charcoal dealers to lower prices,” said Alphonsine Muhimpundu, a town dweller.
Adolphe Hategeka, another resident, said charcoal has even become scarce.
“It is hardly possible to get a sack of charcoal,” he said.
The tough measures were instituted reportedly to control illegal felling of trees.
“A bigger number of people were involved in the business as their source of bread. People were cutting down trees everywhere and we were wondering if this is not an environmental threat,” said Hassan Habakurema, a resident of Gatunda sector.
Claude Mushabe, Executive Secretary of Nyagatare Sector, justified the restrictions.
“Some people get involved in the business illegally. This is something residents in the sector should avoid, cutting down our forests,” he said.
However, in an interview, scores of charcoal dealers accused local leaders of sabotaging their business.
“We have legally established cooperatives involved in charcoal business but sometimes we collide with local leaders over things we don’t understand. Sometimes they come and out rightly close up our business. This is something that should be revised for our business to go on smoothly,” said one charcoal seller in Nyagatare town.
Sam Murenzi, the head of environmental protection in the district said that the district will not tolerate people who illegally sell charcoal on black markets.