Ugandans are being accused of illegal and indiscriminate logging in South Sudan’s Eastern Equatorial State.
The Pangeri community says Ugandans are working together with their South Sudanese collaborators to destroy the forest cover in the area, according to Radio Tamazuj.
In August this year, the governor of Eastern Equatorial State, Mr Louis Lobong, issued an executive order immediately banning what he described as rampant logging in the state.
In the order seen by Radio Tamazuj at the time, the governor observed that there were reports of rampant logging by both individuals and communities present in Magwi, Torit, and Ikotos counties.
The chief of Moli Payam in the defunct Pageri County, Ms Margaret Oliver, told Radio Tamazuj that the number of loggers is very high in her area.
“What I have in Moli Tokuro here are the people who cut trees, the Ugandans and our South Sudanese collaborating with them to carry out the logging. Some of them have taken a month. Some of these people are working with government, security, police and they are the ones doing this but they come with non-uniform. These Ugandan loggers are many here,” she said.
Adding: “If I had the power of government with long hands, I would have carried an inspection and driven them away but I don’t have power because some of them reside in the houses of our soldiers. I don’t have power and as a chief, I only talk by mouth but have no power to implement anything. In Moli, many trees have been cut, some make timbers and some make charcoal in hundreds of sacks and if people continue doing this, how long will it take to replace these trees?”
The area Member of Parliament in the state legislative assembly cum chairman of the agriculture specialised committee, Mr Aventore Kenyi Bilal, said the state government has been ignoring the issue for a long time but action should be taken.
“That is the fact and we have reported to the higher authorities and no action was taken against these people. It is not new. It is something the authorities have paid a blind eye to deliberately. They are capable of stopping these people but they are not stopping it and we will be taken 20 years back because like the Lulu is one of the healthy products and also cutting the trees is very devastating and will cause deforestation,” he said.
Mr Bilal blamed the state authorities and national government for not acting on the matter that he says is a national issue and the consequences would be felt across the country.
Rev Fr Odume, the chairperson of the implementing committee on the banning of logging in Eastern Equatoria state said he has not received any information regarding logging in Pageri despite forming a county implementation committee.
“They have not given me that information. During the process, I went to Nimule and Magwi and we formed a very inclusive committee that includes all the security organs in the former Pageri, Ayachi, and Magwi Counties and they provided me with daily information on logging in these areas. So far, if logging takes place, our security organs will intervene and immediately arrest that person,” Rev Fr Odume said.
He says logging is now under control since the order was issued.