SUFFERING

Saw millers want their money back after logging ban extension

The affected forests include Gathiuru and Kahurura.

In Summary

• A saw miller who had bough logs worth Sh1.6 million said that for the last 22 months, he has laid off 37 employees. The trees are aged 33 years.

• Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko last week extended the moratorium with another year.

Simon Kahara, a saw miller at Nyeri County inspects rotting logs at Gathiuru in Mt Kenya forest yesterday.
Saw millers money Simon Kahara, a saw miller at Nyeri County inspects rotting logs at Gathiuru in Mt Kenya forest yesterday.
Image: ELIUD WAITHAKA

Saw millers in Mt Kenya region are demanding a refund of millions of shillings from the Kenya Forest Service they deposited two years ago to buy mature trees from government forests before a ban was imposed.

Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko last week extended the moratorium with another year.

“We are incurring huge losses since the ban was imposed considering the government is holding our money and we cannot remove the logs from the forests. Some of us have been auctioned by banks because they cannot service their loans” Kariuki Mugo said yesterday.

Mugo, who had bough logs worth Sh1.6 million, said that for the last 22 months, he has laid off 37 employees. The trees are aged 33 years.

He said he knows of three employees from a fellow saw miller who died after falling into alcoholism due to depression.

Simon Kahara from Burguret said they were not opposed to the ban but they want their money back.

“I have machinery worth over Sh13 million lying idle because they stopped working. They include machines for cutting timber, lorries, tractors and loaders,” Kahara said.

Catherine Wanjiku, another saw miller in Nanyuki town, said banks are after them because they cannot pay loans.

She asked President Uhuru Kenyatta to intervene so that they can get their money back, if it is not possible for them to remove the logs.

Wanjiku said the ban was so abrupt that they could not remove the logs they had cut and are now rotting in the forest.

“Given how we prayed for their case to end at the International Criminal Court at The Hague, we request them to have mercy on us because we are being persecuted for no apparent reason,” lamented Wanjiku.

They say that if they can be refunded their money, they can import from other countries or venture into other businesses.

The affected forests include Gathiuru and Kahurura.