BUGESERA: Seven arrested over environmental degradation

Seven people have been arrested in Bugesera District for allegedly cutting trees in a protected forest for charcoal burning. They were arrested on Wednesday in Gako forest in Mareba Sector where they were burning charcoal.

Police identified the suspects as Desire Sindihokubwabo, Laurien Uriho, Tharcisse Habanabashaka, Oswald Nsanzabaganwa, Claude Nizeyimana, Etienne Nsanzabaganwa and Fidele Hakizimana.

Chief Inspector of Police (CIP) Hamdun Twizeyimana, the police spokesperson for the Eastern region, said that the suspects were at the time found with 11 sacks of charcoal, which they had just harvested.

“When local leaders in Mareba got information from residents about people, who destroy the forest to burn charcoal, they called the Police,” said CIP Twizeyimana.

“During the Police operation, the seven suspects were caught carrying charcoal sacks, which they were taking to Ruhuha trading centre to sell,” he added.

The government has heavily invested in forestation programs across the country as a way of protecting the environment and reclaim degraded forests. The tree-planting program is also meant to address prolonged drought and soil erosion in the country.

CIP Twizeyimana called upon the public to desist from activities that could potentially harm the environment, particularly acts of deforestation.

“Cutting trees especially in gazetted areas for any purpose; charcoal burning, construction materials or timber is prohibited and punishable by law.”

Article 44 of law N°48/2018 of 13/08/2018 on environment prohibits, among others, burning forests, national parks and reserved areas; cutting trees in forests or protected areas, burning, harvesting or destroying protected plants.

Under article 59 of the same law, any person who causes death, destroys protected plants, harvests or damages them, commits an offence. Upon conviction, he/she is liable to imprisonment for a term of between three and five years and a fine of not less than Rwf1 million and not more than Rwf3 million.

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