District Executive Director, John Msemakweli said because of the shortage which only affects the natural resources department at the district, revenue generated from the forest reserve have not contributed much to the municipality’s coffers while illegal harvesters cash in.
“If we had a reliable motor vehicle for patrolling the forest reserve then we could have stopped illegal loggers while also boosting revenue collection for the council,” Msemakweli said adding that over 60 percent of the district’s 2.14bn/- annual revenue collection comes from agriculture.
He said due to poor security patrols, deforestation at Ilemba and Lyamba Lyamfipa Escarpment has reached record level as loggers, charcoal makers, timber producers, pastoralists and farmers have invaded the area.
“Groups of people have invaded the area I droves cutting down trees for timber production or charcoal making denying the district revenue from use of such natural resources,” the DED added.
Msemakweli further pointed out that natural resources, land and security officers have been using an old Toyota motor vehicle which broke down several months ago and the district has failed to buy a new four wheel drive due to lack of funds.
“Much of our revenue collected goes to finance development projects such as building of roads, health centres and classroom,” he underlined while appealing to Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism to assist with the purchase of a patrolling vehicle.
“We need at least two new motor vehicles to meet our demand for three departments,” Msemakweli pointed out naming them as extension officers, livestock and fisheries.
Sumbawanga District Land and Natural Resources Officer, Chande Juma backed his boss by pointing out that Ilemba Forest Reserve and Lyamba Lyamfipa Escarpment need urgent intervention to stop illegal loggers, pastoralists and farmers.
“Apart from the shortage of motor vehicles, we also are facing shortage of manpower to deploy on patrol missions,” Juma told journalists and Lawyers’ Environmental Action Team’s members who visited the district recently.
He said his office has only two officers working in all the eight wards of the district which forces them to request two wildlife officers to accompany them when going on a patrol mission.
“Right now, my department also needs at least one Pickup truck for patrolling purposes,” he added.
He also said in a bid to reduce deforestation, the district has distributed over 140,000 tree seedlings to 38 villages for afforestation of depleted areas to avoid desertification. Sumbawanga Municipality is the headquarters of Rukwa region.