Rukungiri Police have impounded four trucks carrying more than 400 pieces of timber valued at 25 million Shillings. The impounded timber, from Butimba Wood Centre, is believed to have been cut illegally from Imaramagambo National Forest in Bwambara Sub County in Rukungiri district.
some of impounded timbers being loaded. photo by Ronald Kabanza.2
Rukungiri Police have impounded
four trucks carrying more than 400 pieces of timber valued at 25 million Shillings. The impounded timber, from Butimba Wood Centre, is believed to have been
cut illegally from Imaramagambo National Forest in Bwambara Sub County in
Police acted on a tip-off from Dan Kaguta, the Rukungiri
Resident District Commissioner (RDC). Kaguta told
URN that he decided to plant spies in Butimba Wood Centre after
his office was wrongly accused of illegally cutting down trees in Imaramagambo Forest.
Kaguta says his
spies informed him on Tuesday evening about the arrival of a truck full of
timber. He immediately asked the police to intervene leading to the
impounding of the truck and arrest of suspects whose identities he didn’t disclose.
Moses Nanoka, the
Rukungiri District Police Commander, says the suspects are helping police with investigations into the source of
timber. He says he is optimistic that the suspects will help them arrest those behind
the forest destruction.
Elias Byamungu, Rukungiri Chief Administrative Officer, told URN that while appearing on a talk show over the weekend, a
listener called in accusing the RDC of masterminding
the destruction of Imaramagambo forest reserve.
According to Byamungu,
he called up the District Forestry Officer, Arthur Twinomujuni, directing him to prepare a report on the illegal activities in the forest. Twinomujuni
told URN that he visited the forest, which is part of Queen Elizabeth National Park as instructed by the CAO and discovered that a lot of Mahogany
and Cinnamon (Kurundu) tree species had been cut for charcoal burning.
Stephen Ndemere, the Imaramagambo National Forest Sector Manager, says that he found some people cutting timber and
burning charcoal in the forest last year and apprehended them. He however, says that
to his dismay they were given bail just after two weeks in prison.
Ndemere says the community members have encroached on the biggest
part of the forest reserve and are currently cultivating rice, ground nuts,
beans and watermelons.
National Forest covers 15175 hectares of land.