Moroto. Business came to a standstill on Wednesday afternoon in Moroto Municipality following a peaceful protest organised by the Karimojong Tepeth community against the planned cut down of trees atop Mountain Moroto.
National Forestry Authority (NFA) intends to harvest more than 5,185 mature trees planted way back in 1945 by the colonial government.
The Tepeth community has, however, vowed not to allow the cut down of the trees, citing cultural attachments.
More than 600 residents walked 60 kilometres from Tapac Sub-county to Moroto District headquarters seeking to meet the Resident District Commissioner, Mr Peter Ken Lochap.
Ms Stephan Adupa, the Tapac Sub -county councillor, said the continued cutting down of trees will degrade further the already disadvantaged Karamoja sub-region.
According to Ms Adupa, the Tepeth have always protected the trees that NFA is trying to cut down.
“We shall not accept our trees to be cut down by NFA because we have special historical attachment to them,” she said.
Mr Elijah Omiat Kuron, one of the elders said: “We the Tepeth, living on top of the mountain, love trees. We get medicine from these forests and we shall not allow any body to temper with them,” he said.
The locals were calmed down by the RDC who assured them that no tree will be cut without the knowledge of the community. He blamed NFA for undertaking such an initiative before involving the local community.
“We are not going to allow anyone to cut down the trees without consulting the local people who have been the custodians of these trees since time immemorial,” he said.
However, Mr Michal Okot, the Moroto NFA area manager, said they did not consult the locals because they (NFA) are charged with supervising all the forests.
“We thought there was no need for us to meet the local community because that forest was surveyed long time ago,” he said.