Saw millers in Baringo have come out to condemn regulations set by Kenya Forest Service (KFS) which they say have caused them massive job losses.
Led by Baringo Saw millers association chairperson Joseph Cheruiyot, they said the new regulations put in place after national government partially lifted the logging ban in public and community forests has tormented small scale saw millers who could not afford the high fees imposed for an individual to be given a license to carry on with harvesting of trees.
While airing their grievances during a consultative forum held at Kabarnet ASK grounds, Cheruiyot noted that there were millers from the county who have applied for registration of their companies and have been vetted more than five times but have not received any feedback.
He stated that the registered saw millers who get logging tenders have a limited period of 30 days and must pay between Sh1 million and Sh10 million fees which most of them were unable to raise.
“The high fees have worked to the advantage of certain individuals and rich companies who are gaining the most,” he explained.
The association’s chairman said they feel discriminated against because they have not been given a favourable ground to support the economy of the region.
He revealed that corrupt individuals have infiltrated the sector and destroyed their reputation where they could penetrate the various road blocks at night and even pay for their release whenever they were caught on the wrong side of the law.
At the same time, the Baringo saw millers chairperson urged KFS to lift the ban on growing maize under the shamba system since it would allow faster growth of young trees and supports the monitoring process.
Presidential candidate William Ruto’s running mate Rigathi Gachagua regretted the agony which the saw millers were undergoing stating that such small entrepreneurs should be supported instead of being treated as bad people who were cutting down trees.
Gachagua stated when he visited the area recently and felt that the saw milling companies should pay according to their capabilities and not put in the same level.
He expressed confidence that if William Ruto of the United Democratic alliance (UDA) succeeds in forming the next government, their grievances which included allowing communities to practice the shamba system in order to promote the agriculture sector while taking care of the environment, would be addressed.
“Harvesting of trees will be done concurrently with planting of more trees because the conservation of our forest is equally important,” he said.
Former Baringo governor who is the current UDA nominee Benjamin Cheboi says he plans to put more resources to the environment docket to ensure more trees especially in the highlands are grown to guarantee continuous harvesting of trees.
Cheboi also said he shall team up with KFS to ensure improved forest cover where the community shall be responsible for the protection of all forests in the area.