Friday, November 22, 2019

Cabinet Secretary (CS) for Environment and Forestry Mr. Keriako Tobiko while addressing locals in Kikima market

Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Forestry Keriako Tobiko has interdicted four Kenya Forest Service (KFS) officers in Makueni over illegal logging in Kivale forest, Mbooni sub-county.

The four, County Ecosystem Conservator Joseph Wakiaga, Mbooni Forest Manager John Gonanae, Officer In charge of enforcement James Yatich and Corporal Harun Gachii, are accused of colluding with businessmen to conduct illegal logging leading to wanton destruction of the forest.

Tobiko made the announcement after touring the forest and holding a series of meetings with top Government officials, local leaders and the community at Kikima market.

The interdictions followed complaints from the local community over destruction of the forest despite the moratorium issued by the government in 2018.

The CS said that his Ministry will conduct thorough investigations and those found culpable for abetting the illegal activity will be punished accordingly.

He castigated the four officers for misleading him on the state of the forest despite persistent complaints from the community and their leaders.

“It was quite unfortunate that I had to send the Chief Forest Conservator Julius Kamau and Kenya Water Towers Agency chairman to establish the reality on the ground because the four officers continued giving false information,” said Tobiko.

Cabinet Secretary (CS) for Environment and Forestry Mr. Keriako Tobiko listens to Alex Lemakoko Commander in Charge of KFS rangers during a tour of the Kivale forest in Mbooni sub county following complaints of illegal logging.

The CS directed that massive restoration of Kivale forest and all other Gazetted forests in the county be done and promised to provide tree seedlings for the exercise.

He called on the residents to form Community Forest Associations (CFA) to protect, conserve and manage the forests in the area.

Tobiko pledged to send an officer to the county to guide residents on the formation and management of CFAs.

The CS appealed to the residents to give information on any illegal logging within the forest and promised to take stern action against those found engaging in such  activities.

“There will be no sacred cows. Those found guilty will be prosecuted accordingly,” he warned.

Speaking at the same forum, Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jnr termed the destruction of Kivale forest as devastating and called on the government to dismantle the cartels involved in the illegal logging.

“Those felling trees in the forest are well connected criminals who operate with a lot of impunity,” he said.

He called on local leaders to desist from politicizing Kivale forest destruction saying such a move will hamper efforts to curb the degradation of the forest.

Mbooni MP Erastus Kevasu called for thorough investigations devoid of witch hunting and malice. “Let the institutions charged with investigations do their work properly and bring the culprits to book,” Kevasu said.

Kivale forest sits on government land measuring approximately 1000 hectares. It is one of the main water towers in Mbooni sub-county.





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