Umushikiri smuggling a major deforestation factor in the Eastern Province
The intercepted truck with umushikiri stems
The lucrative Umushikiri tree smuggling has led to continued deforestation in the Eastern part of the country.
Police in Bugesera District on Thursday intercepted a truck full of tree trunks locally known as Umushikiri, which were allegedly cut illegally in a forest in the area.
Umushikiri stumps are used as a raw material in the production of perfumes. It is said that the stumps are smuggled through porous borders to Uganda and Tanzania before transporting them to Asia, where they have market.
The Bugesera District Police Commander, Superintendent (SP) Donat Kinani warned those involved in “any criminal activity” to desist before they are arrested.
“The law is clear, and this umushikiri business is illegal. It is an act of environmental degradation, which we can’t allow as law enforcers,” said Kanani.
Article 416 of the organic law on environment, partly stipulates that anyone who illegally cuts trees in a forest or any public place, is punishable with a term of imprisonment of between six months and two years and a fine of Rwf300, 000 to Rwf2 million or one of the two penalties.
Kanani says that they are still looking for the driver of the truck, who escaped leaving the vehicle behind.
This illegal act is normally registered in the Eastern districts of Kayonza, Gatsibo and Bugesera.
Under normal procedure anyone who wants to cut trees has to first seek authorization from authorities.
Emmanuel Karuranga, the Eastern Region Police Spokesperson, urged the population to be part of the campaign to protect the environment and fighting crimes in general.
“The public are crucial in this case. We need their input, by providing us with information on such wrongdoers,” Karuranga said.