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EES authorities hold ‘illegal’ loggers

Author: Okot Emmanuel | Published: Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Illegal logging is common in the Equatoria region. Picture: teak truck impounded by CES authorities on June 10, 2019 | Credit | Joakino Francis

Six foreign nationals have been detained in Magwi County, Eastern Equatoria State, for illegal logging.

The unnamed individuals were apprehended by the forest guards and are being held at Nimule police station, according to Magwi County commissioner.

Otto David says they were arrested during a state-sanctioned crackdown on illegal logging.

“We found them cutting down the teak with machines in Mugali Payam. They are now in Nimule and the law will take its course after referring them to the state headquarters in Torit,” David told Eye Radio on Tuesday.

Commissioner David says the names of the suspects are being withheld as investigations continue.

Economists say illegal logging in South Sudan is persistent in the heavily wooded areas bordering Northern Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The practice is common around Yei River, Western Equatoria and parts of Eastern Equatoria states.

In August 2020, Eastern Equatoria State Governor Louis Lobong issued an executive order immediately banning “rampant logging” in the state.

Commissioner David states that the state government will take tough measures against anyone cutting or facilitating the practice.

He warned local communities in Magwi County against collaborating with illegal loggers.

“Illegal cutting of trees is not allowed in Magwi County. Anybody found cutting will be taken to court,” David added.

However, various reports suggest that South Sudanese leaders are the ones who benefit from illegal teak and mining activities in the country.

In 2019, the Washington-based research group, C4ADS, examined trade data to document the export of around 100,000 tons of South Sudanese teak from January 2018 to March 2019.

It found that corruption and a poorly regulated logging trade mean that the government, the military, and other armed groups are skimming profits off South Sudan’s portion of the global teak trade, which is worth more than $500 million dollars annually.

In 2020, The Sentry accused Governor Lobong’s office of taking part in illegal gold mining activities in the area.

His office, along with other state and non-state actors, allegedly smuggled gold from Kapoeta across the border into Kenya, with the active complicity of local and national governments – claims he denied.

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