Businessman arrested for illegally felling trees

GISAGARA - A businessman who allegedly cut down 3 hectares of a government owned forest in Mukindo sector was on Monday morning arrested and is being detained at Ndora police station, police sources have confirmed. Innocent Gakwaya, a local entrepreneur who was contracted by the local sector authorities to build classrooms under the 9-Years Basic Education (9YBE) program is said to have been allowed to cut down only 80 trees for construction work but he instead cut down the whole forest felling a total  of 1,221 trees in the process.

GISAGARA - A businessman who allegedly cut down 3 hectares of a government owned forest in Mukindo sector was on Monday morning arrested and is being detained at Ndora police station, police sources have confirmed.

Innocent Gakwaya, a local entrepreneur who was contracted by the local sector authorities to build classrooms under the 9-Years Basic Education (9YBE) program is said to have been allowed to cut down only 80 trees for construction work but he instead cut down the whole forest felling a total  of 1,221 trees in the process.

The district Mayor Leandre Karekezi in an interview with The New Times blamed local authorities in the sector for not closely monitoring the activities of the entrepreneur. He promised stern action against what he termed as irresponsible action by the entrepreneur and apportioned some blamed on sector level authorities.

“Sector authorities had proposed to fine the businessman but this is not enough, we have handed him over to the concerned authorities, we have also taken administrative punitive action on the Sector Executive Secretary,” Mayor Karekezi said.

“If we get tangible information implicating the Sector Executive Secretary in the deal, he will also be prosecuted, ”he added.

At Ndora Police station, the suspect, Innocent Gakwaya in an interview with The New Times denied all the allegations leveled against him. He however insisted that he got authorization from local authorities in the sector.

He said that the forest he cut down was in payment of Rwf2.8million that the Sector owed him for constructing classrooms under the nine year basic education programme.

“Sector authorities ceded the forest that I cut down as a payment of a debt they owed me, we agreed that they would give me another stretch of forest to complete the payment,’ Gakwaya said.

“I am not guilty and I am convinced that I did nothing outside the law, I received a written authorization to cut down the trees,” he said.

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