Kajo-Keji residents hail efforts to curtail illegal logging

Residents of Kajo-Keji county of Central Equatoria State say they are happy that the county authorities are implementing orders to stop illegal logging of forests there.

Residents of Kajo-Keji county of Central Equatoria State say they are happy that the county authorities are implementing orders to stop illegal logging of forests there. 

According to the residents, the rate of illegal logging in the area has drastically dropped in the past two months as they no longer see trucks loaded with logs crossing the town nor hear the sound of logging machines operating. 

Kajo-Keji County has experienced rampant illegal forest logging since the 2016 civil war. Residents and local officials have complained that the business is only depleting the forests and does not benefit the locals. 

Some government officials and military officers have been accused of aiding the illegal logging business mostly done by Ugandan timber companies and the logs are transported to Uganda through Moyo and Yumbe districts. 

Following persistent public outcry, the state governor in an executive order in October 2020 directed the ministries of agriculture and local government to implement a ban on the logging business in the state. 

The residents now say they have begun to feel the effects of the ban. 

Juan Emelia, a resident of Nyepo Payam thanked the county commissioner for implementing the ban on illegal logging and called for service delivery. 

“Nowadays, we no longer see trucks loaded with logs. We saw on truck impounded at the police station for trying to carry logs in Limi Boma. The community wants this illegal logging to be stopped by all means because we want these resources for the benefit of the community and also for the benefit of our children in the future,” she stressed.

From the Kangapo area, Julius Taban said they are relieved from the sound of logging machines and urged the county government to continue until no tree is felled illegally.

“We heard that there is no longer logging and indeed we longer hear sounds of power saw machines in the village here,” he attested. “We are now happy that once this is brought to an end, we shall witness rains as usual and these forests will one day help the returnees to construct their houses and the community we want this illegal logging stopped now and in the future.”

A resident of Kajo-Keji town, Catherine John said although logging seems to be on the decline, the government should remain vigilant, especially along the borders. 

“I am very happy because the rate of illegal logging has reduced in Kajo-Keji. If these trees are all cut down, we shall continue to suffer due to drought, and lack of rain and it will affect our existence as human beings. We want to see that in the future these forest products should be cut for the benefit of community development projects,” she added. 


Meanwhile, Victor Batali Silas, an environmental activist and the Executive Director of the Forest Conservation Association (FCA) applauded the county authorities for curbing illegal logging in Kajo-Keji.


He also called for community awareness programs on the importance of forest conservation and the need for reforestation. 

“There is a need for community awareness on the protection of the forest and the environment and this is the time we need to involve the community in environmental protection. There is also a need for the establishment of a legal framework by the county and the county should form a community forestry management committee and there should be laws that prohibit violators of the forest so that the environment is protected,” Batali said.

For his part, Kajo-Keji County commissioner Eresto Kenyi told Radio Tamazuj: “The illegal logging has been stopped because by then, the loggers used to stay here and transport their logs at night hours but currently their presence (loggers) is not seen on the ground. This is because we are implementing orders that came from the state to the county government to implement and currently there are no logging companies here.”

Central Equatoria state agriculture and forestry minister Lily Kapuki says the ban order will remain in place as the government is keen on preserving the environment.

She urged the citizens and security agents in Kajo-Keji to cooperate and continue to protect the forests from illegal loggers. 

“When the governor gave the orders and backed by ministerial orders stopping illegal logging it has to be implemented by all the security organs in Kajo-Keji because we want the security apparatus to protect our forest and our constitution. That is their mandate to arrest but not to help these loggers to smuggle our forest resources,” she noted.