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Charcoal is a no-go zone, Tobiko warns chiefs

Environment Cabinet Secretary challenges school heads as well as church and community leaders to roll up their sleeves and ensure they become environmental champions

By Albert Lemomo

Environment and Forestry Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko has warned national administration officials in Kajiado County who have been aiding the illegal charcoal business and cutting of indigenous trees for building purposes that  stern action will be taken against them, saying they will lose their jobs and face prosecution.

While addressing residents of Mashuru Sub-County during an education meeting at Ilmejooli Primary School, which garnered a mean of 322 marks last year, Tobiko said, “It has come to my attention that some of the chiefs and local leaders are working in cahoots with those destroying our environment, whereby charcoal harvesters are allowed to cut trees, burn and ship them using the rural roads, yet there is a chief in all sub-locations. The administrators are in charge and we expect them to uphold and implement the law. I have been informed that there are some who are abetting this illegal activity and I am warning those officials to wake up and stand up for their country. If they continue, they are going to lose their jobs and they shall be prosecuted.”

Furthermore, Tobiko challenged the pastoralist community to be at the forefront in conserving and reclaiming the environment to sustain their culture of herding for posterity, as well as enabling the country to achieve its set target of increasing forest cover by 2022 from the current 10 per cent.

“It is important that as a community, we should deviate from the acts of charcoal burning and destruction of indigenous trees either for firewood or for sale. Some of the benefits as a result of such activities are only for a limited time in comparison with the problems that will inhibit our progress in the future, including shortage of rainfall, unpredictable weather patterns, and global warming effects. Our main source of livelihood will be destroyed and we will have nothing to leave for our children, because livestock keeping will become extremely expensive,” Tobiko said.

The CS also challenged school heads as well as church and community leaders to roll up their sleeves and ensure they become environmental champions. “All of us have a role to ensure that our country goes green in all aspects. Therefore, I have instructed the forest department to ensure that they avail tree seedlings to you through school heads and community leaders, to pick tree seedlings and plant them in your schools and church compounds,” Tobiko added.

The Kajiado County Commissioner, Joshua Nkanatha, issued a hotline free caller number (988) dubbed “Mulika Uhalifu” to the residents; the number is linked to the national and county law enforcement agencies for citizens to expose offenders.

During the function, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry through its agencies donated water tanks, laptops, sanitary pads and learning equipment to the school.

Ilmejooli primary School was awarded the best performing public school in the sub-county in last year’s Kenya Certificate for Primary Education.

The CS told the residents to empower the girl child and desist from retrogressive habits like early marriages.

Present during the function were the Kenya Water Tower Agency Chairman Dr Joseph Malombe, Secretary Administration in the ministry Joel Kitili, the National Environmental Trust Fund Acting Chief Executive Officer Samson Toniok, and Mashuuru Deputy County Commissioner Stephen Nyakundi, among other leaders.

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