According to Oryem, a truck loaded with charcoal that was impounded on Sunday night from Adilang Sub-county and briefly kept at Adilang Police post and later Patongo Central Police station has mysteriously disappeared.
Police officers in Agago District are on the spot for
allegedly aiding illegal charcoal trade. This follows reports on the thriving commercial
charcoal trade in the district despite the ban on commercial production and
transportation of charcoal.
The ban instituted during a full council meeting last month followed the surge
in commercial charcoal production in Lelakadera, Obulu Ayita, and Lacekoto
in Labwa Parish, Adilang Sub-county. The vice also attracted the intervention of the Environmental Protection Police
Unit, which raided several illegal charcoal production camps resulting in the
arrest of suspects and the destruction of hundreds of bags of charcoal.
But Santos Sans Oryem, the Adilang Sub-county LC V Councilor says that
commercial charcoal trade in his area has resumed to a full-scale and faulted
police for failing to act. Oryem notes that on two occasions, five trucks fully loaded
with bags of charcoal exited the district from Adilang Sub-county minus
the intervention of the police even after they were informed.
According to Oryem, a truck loaded with charcoal that was impounded on Sunday
night from Adilang Sub-county and briefly kept at Adilang Police post and later
Patongo Central Police station has mysteriously disappeared. Agago Resident District Commissioner, Andrew Onyuk pointed a finger at police
officers in the district whom he claims are siding with charcoal dealers.
Onyuk notes that sometimes Police officers are sent to apprehend the culprits
behind the charcoal trade but they don’t surface with them, saying there could
have been possible collusion.
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Onyuk says the growing rate of illegal charcoal trade in the district needs serious
intervention backed by a team of investigators to ensure the vice is
permanently brought to an end and the culprits are taken to the courts of law. Last
month's full council meeting also resolved to ban the payment of revenue by
commercial charcoal dealers to the sub-county and District to obtain movement
Each commercial charcoal dealer was paying Shillings 500,000
at the sub-county and another Shillings 500,000 at the district and later
issued a permit for transporting charcoal. Leonard Opio Ojok, the Agago District Chairperson, says with the scrapping of
the revenue payment at both sub-county and district, the commercial trade-in
charcoal became illegal.
He says the current traders sneaking out of the district
with the help of some security personnel are conducting the trade illegally. Ojok threatened that if the vice doesn’t stop, an
alternative action that may include the burning of trucks loaded with charcoal
may be justified.
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The Officer In-charge of Patongo Police Station, Yunus Sebirumbi counter
accuses some district officials of meddling in the police fight against
illegal charcoal trade. Sebirumbi alleges that there are instances where some
district leaders, he declined to name call their officers to release impounded
trucks loaded with charcoal even after the recent ban.
He notes that the police are continuing to impound the
trucks loaded with charcoal, arguing that over 100 bags of charcoal were
recently impounded and auctioned by court bailiffs from Gulu.