Over 6,000 red cedar poles worth approximately Sh.3Million that were on transit from the Mau forest have been seized and five suspects arrested at Nkaretta area in Narok North Sub County.
The five were arrested last night by Narok County rangers as operation to curb rampant illegal logging intensified.
The posts were which were being ferried in two Lorries from the forest are believed to be heading to neighbouring county Nakuru town.
According to area County Chief Forester Mr. Dickson Keiwa said the illegal cargo was netted at around 4am yesterday morning as the officers were at their normal patrols.
“It was around 4am when we spotted the two lorries ferrying the posts. We chased them and luckily we caught up with them at Nkareta area where we ordered them to surrender. Upon inspecting we found that the lorries were full with the endangered cedar posts,” said Keiwa.
The county official said the syndicate was well organized as they have loggers, the pole makers and transporters as well as loaders who conduct the business clandestinely in the cover of darkness.
He said the loggers ferry the poles from deep in the forests using their shoulders, donkeys and even oxen before being loaded to standby trucks ready for the black market.
The forester lamented over rampant illegal harvesting of cedar which has since been banned in the country and accused local community and chiefs for failing to cooperate in ending the illegal business.
“As the government we are doing our best to ensure that we end this menace but we cannot do it alone. We need assistance from the community living near the forest as well as local chiefs in terms of information for us to enforce the law,” said Keiwa.
Two months ago, security officers in Naisoya impounded a lorry that was transporting 2,000 red cedar poles worth over Sh.600,000.
The cedar tree which takes over 30 years to mature is an endangered species and is protected by a presidential order issued in 2007.
Area Deputy County Commissioner Ronald Mwiwawi who was among those who witnessed the nabbing of the banned poles said the government was working with all security agencies such as AP, police, KFS, KWS and County rangers to protect the Mau forest water tower.
“We will stop at nothing in ensuring that the Mau Forest is protected from the cartels. The law is clear on illegal logging,” warned the County Commissioner.
The five suspects are in Narok police station and are set to be arraigned in court to face illegal logging charges.