The operation that was launched last week in Atiak Sub County has seen more than 200 charcoal dealers arrested by Police and soldiers of the Uganda Peoples Defense Forces UPDF for illegally engaging in extraction and trade in forests products.
Charcoal dealers are fleeing the jungles of Amuru district following the arrest of more than 200 of their colleagues in the second week of an ongoing joint security operation code named “impound and destroy Charcoal operation”.
The operation that was launched last week in Atiak Sub County has seen more than 200 charcoal dealers arrested by Police and soldiers of the Uganda People's Defense Forces – UPDF for illegally engaging in extraction and trade in forests products.
On Monday, the joint security operation was conducted in Kilak Hills in Labala Parish in Pabbo Sub County to try and save the last surviving rain forests at the foot of the hills from massive deforestation and the booming charcoal business.
Fifteen of the dealers were picked by Police as others ran in disarray into the jungles and more than 2,000 bags of charcoal destroyed in the operation which began last week.
Troops undertaking the operation encountered abandoned settlements and few bags of charcoal inside the jungles of Opiro Village, the home of Labala Central Forest Reserve, the largest last surviving rain forest in Kilak Hills where charcoal producers have pitched camp to undertake massive charcoal production.
The operation involves arresting the charcoal dealers for prosecution, burning piles of impounded bags of charcoal and disrupting the ongoing cremation of logs of trees as well as destroying settlements of the charcoal dealers amongst others.
Linda Agnes Auma, the Amuru resident district commissioner commanded the operation alongside Michael Lakony, the Amuru district Chairperson and Amuru district Police Commander Emmanuel Bwambale with assistance from a host of local leaders and community vigilantes.
Lakony says the joint operation is paying dividends following the involvement of community vigilantes who inform security of areas affected by massive deforestation. He said the informers notify Police of trucks collecting charcoal from the district.
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Lakony says more community vigilantes are being recruited for villages where they are non-existent.
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Agnes Linda Auma, the Amuru resident district commissioner says the operation is against unsustainable extraction of forest products in the district. She says other measures had failed in controlling the disastrous charcoal production in the northern Uganda district.
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Superintendent of Police Emmanuel Bwambale, the Amuru district Police Commander says it is hard to believe the extent of destruction of natural rain forests taking place in Amuru district without visiting the degraded jungles.
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On daily basis, more than 30 trucks of charcoal leave Amuru district for Central Uganda and markets in Kenya.
URN understands that Kilak and Wiceri, two major National Forest Reserves in Amuru district have already been depleted by the persisting charcoal business.