Opinion

How charcoal business spells doom for our future

By Paul Jimbo

Over the past few years, South Sudan has been embroiled in a series of deadly ethnic conflicts. These conflicts stem from perennial cattle raids in rural set ups and have led to massive displacements of populations across the country.

Majority now feel their safety and security is only guaranteed in urban centers leading to high rural-urban migration. Juba city also hosts the seat of the national Government of South Sudan besides being a hub of Non-Governmental Organizations.

On the flip-side the high populations in cities such as Juba has created a high and ready demand for charcoal fuel consumption.

This defines the reason Juba city is awash with charcoal stores and truck hawking the rare commodity with utmost impunity.

Some leaders including traditional chiefs and senior government officials in the city have taken advantage of the ready charcoal demand to destroy indigenous forests for charcoal and timber business.

Large swaths of forest coverage in the greater Equatoria region have been cleared by timber and charcoal traders from Uganda, Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Rwanda, and India and even some South Sudanese cut down logs for export and for charcoal.

This explains why the country is at high risk of losing most or all of its important indigenous trees in the near future.

Most targeted for logging are specific indigenous species of trees including the Afzellia species. Recently authorities in the Government of Jubek State Jubek have captured truckloads of timber in Lirya County.

Also in Torit State, the state government recently impounded several trucks ferrying timber logs destined for a neighboring country.

Worse still, the government is setting up a robust Juba city electrification plan that has seen streets littered with electric power lines.

Unfortunately authorities have allowed the contractor setting up the lines to cut down all trees that traditionally lined up Juba’s streets to clear way for the power line.

Environmentalists now fear that certain species of trees risk permanent extinction if the government does not work hard to control, protect and educate the public about the importance of our forest.

Keen on environmental conservation, some city residents and sections of rural communities, more specifically have taken up forest conservation through a massive tree planting and agro-forestry campaigns.

They have been planting trees in the city and parks and engaging in crop production in the swaths of destroyed forest lands.

The government has put down some policies as a campaign to protect the natural forest cover of South Sudan but that remains on paper.

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