•In the lucrative unlawful charcoal business, huge kickbacks are said to be offered.
•Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu early last year termed all charcoal burning for commercial purposes and transportation of the commodity through the county illegal.
Police departments in Mumoni sub county are at loggerheads over who is in charge of impounding lorries ferrying charcoal along the route.
The ongoing rift turned ugly on Wednesday night when a vehicle ferrying charcoal from Kora National Park through Tseikuru was impounded by Critical Infrastructure Protection Unit officers at Irira near the border between Kitui and Tharaka Nithi counties.
However, officers from the Kenya Police demanded to take charge of the impounded lorry.
Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu early last year termed all charcoal burning for commercial purposes and transportation of the commodity through the county illegal.
Her move got a major boost from the national government with President Uhuru Kenyatta banning charcoal burning and any form of logging for commercial timber production, in all government forests.
According to Mumoni deputy Sub county police Commander Samuel Kogo, officers from CIPU had gone out of their mandate by installing roadblocks in Mumoni.
According to Kogo, that fateful night, CIPU officers were even escorting the said lorry, which was transporting charcoal from Tseikuru to Irira without proper documentation.
“I instructed my officers at the nearby police post to ensure the vehicle transporting charcoal doesn’t cross over to Tharaka Nithi County without their knowledge and make proper documentation so that the driver alongside the vehicle face the law,” said the Mumoni deputy OCDP.
Kago accused the officers from CIPU of threatening his officers at Irira, but luckily he was able to send reinforcement and the lorry and the driver were arrested.
According to the police boss, the lorry and the driver would be arraigned in Kyuso law courts on Monday once the investigations are over.
However, his counterpart and the head of CIPU Justus Githinji accused the Kenya police of condoning the illegal transportation of charcoal.
Justus, armed with a letter allegedly obtained from the county government, claimed to have been given full mandate by the ministry involved to control illegal charcoal business which was on the rise in the area.
“We have an official letter from the county government allowing us to act against charcoal transportation and we were only doing our job before our colleagues from Kenya police tried to thwart our efforts,” said Githiji.
He said what was witnessed at Irira police post was a small misunderstanding brought by their counterparts who, according to him, were trying to forcefully release the vehicle which had been seized under strict instructions from the county government of Kitui.