State gov’t investigates Agriculture Minister

By Baraka John   

The Deputy governor of Western Equatoria State on Friday has questioned the State minister for agriculture and environment together with the Managing director of Equatoria Teak Company, to explain why the State continued to experience low rainfall which has affected agricultural plantation.

Speaking to media yesterday, Dr Kennedy Gaaniko Baime, said that most of big trees in the State were almost finished as unauthorized people have taken to bushes cutting the tress for commercial purposes.    

“Illegal trees logging is common in Western Equatoria State, although the State ministry of Agriculture and Environment issued several local orders banning illegal cutting of tress, but the people involved in the practice seem to be adamant to the orders,” said Baime.

He added that he directed the Minister for Agriculture and Environment to investigate the illegal logging of trees in the State which has led to low rainfall in some parts of the State in past three months.

“I am working hand in hand with the National Minister of Agriculture and forestry on how we can handle issues concerning cutting of trees in the State because without proper management of the resources of the state, the civilians will not benefit from their own resources. it’s our mandate to manage and control our resources,” he added.

Meanwhile, Alison Barnaba, the Minister of Agriculture in Western Equatoria State said that his ministry has put strong system in place in handling trees logging across the 10 counties of Western Equatoria State.

“last month I summoned some individuals owning machines for cutting trees in the State to register their machines. The order, further called on individuals involved in trees logging to seek for approval first from the State ministry of Agriculture and Environment before cutting any tree,” said Barnaba.

However, Equatoria Teak Company Managing Director Mr. Ian Paterson said, his company followed the agreement it signed with the State government 10 years ago.

Paterson said that the agreement was to cut 1 tree and plant 5.

In October,authorities of Yambio County met with community leaders of the 6Payams of the County to discuss the recent deal by the State top authorities over logging of Mahogany and Azealia trees in Yambio County.

According to Yambio County Commissioner, the State government of Western Equatoria in late September reached an agreement with a Ugandan based ‘Southern Express Company’ over cutting down unspecified number of Mahogany and Azealia trees in Yambio County for a period of 10 years. 

This came after the state government halted a deal with Todaf Engineering company after the State authority stop the company indefinitely after it went contrary to the agreement.    

The government of Western Equatoria early this year signed a memorandum of understanding with a Ugandan the based Todaf Engineering Company to cut down 50 million Mahogany trees in the State.

According to the State authorities, the deal would help create job opportunities to youth in the State and improve infrastructures including tarmacking roads within Yambio Municipality.

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