Police has arrested 21 people in connection with illegal mining and illegal cutting down of trees in a protected area in Ngororero District.
The suspects, who are held at Kavumu Police station, are accused of mining without a license and encroaching on a government gazetted forest to cut down trees.
According to the District Police Commander, Senior Superintendent of Police Marc Gasangwa, the suspects were found with no license to mine although they claim that their employer had a license.
“We are still investigating these people. You must have a license and all the required equipment for safe mining,” said the DPC.
He pointed out that mining requires skills and knowledge, adding that if it’s done wrongly, a lot is at risk, including people’s lives.
On tree felling, SSP Gasangwa cited laws that punish illegal cutting and transportation of trees.
“By law, to cut down trees, someone has to first acquire a license from the Sector which these people did not have. Deforestation contributes to environment degradation, which has effects on people’s lives and the economy in general. We can’t allow that,” he said.
Police established an Environmental Protection Unit (EPU) that operates under the Criminal Investigation Department, and mandated to protect the environment, including air space, forestry, waters and biodiversity, as well as the enforcement of different legal instruments.