KAYONZA – Authorities in Kayonza district on Wednesday seized a truck carrying charcoal and apprehended two people in connection with illegal felling of trees to burn charcoal.
Yussuf Nsengimana one of the renowned charcoal traders in the district, was apprehended as he loaded sacks of charcoal onto a lorry in Twibanire village in Ndego Sector.
Upon arrest, Nsengimana and his partner, who was allegedly taking the charcoal to Kigali claimed ignorance about the law prohibiting cutting down trees without license.
“I didn’t know it was prohibited. I shouldn’t have done so,” he said, asking for forgiveness.
Nabyera H. Niyibizi the Ndego Sector Executive Secretary, said residents use cover of the night and bribe the grass-roots local leaders to let them cut trees.
“But burning charcoal cannot be concealed because of smoke and it takes some days,” he said. He blamed local defence personnel in villages for not being vigilant.
Meanwhile, Audace Kamanzi the agriculture officer in charge of Ndego sector disclosed that other charcoal dealers were nabbed with over 200 bags of charcoal at mid-night in Nyabikenye village.
He decried the rate at which forests are being destroyed and called for severe punishment against the culprits.
“You see these people travel at night to escape leaders’ eyes. They even go as far as removing number plates from their vehicles, so that no one identifies them completely,” he said.
The charcoal dealers will be given appropriate sentences including fines and the vehicle owners will also be handed heavy fines, before they can get them back, the officials said.