Rufiji forestry officers suspended

PRIME Minister Kassim Majaliwa has suspended four forestry officers in Rufiji District, Coast Region.

He has also ordered that an indefinite suspension of forest harvesting due to incompetence be imposed.

The officers who faced the abrupt suspension yesterday included the Head of Land Department, Environment and Natural Resources, Dr Paul Ligonja; the District Forestry Officer, Mr Gaudens Tarimo; the Forest Officer, Mr Yonas Nyambuya and Tanzania Forest Services (TFS) District agent Seleman Bulenga.

The Prime Minister suspended the forest department officials during a meeting with Rufiji District members of staff before addressing a public rally at Jumba la Maendeleo grounds in the district. Mr Majaliwa further directed Rufiji District Commissioner (DC) Juma Njwayo to collect all logs in the forest and auction them.

He, at the same time, instructed that the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism should send its team to Rufiji District so that it can make a thorough inspection of the forest harvesting licences to establish the authenticity of those documents.

According to the Premier, Rufiji is among the districts that are leading in the harvesting of forest products without following appropriate legal procedures although it has a good number of forest officers.

“There is no any success whatsoever in the harvesting of forests in this district. Therefore, I am suspending indefinitely this business and its officials because we cannot watch and do nothing as people take away logs without following requisite legal procedures,’’ he stressed.

He said there was no time for ‘Business as Usual’ mentality. He insisted that even those with licences should wait for an inspection so as to identify where they obtained them. He added that the government was not ready to see forest officers authorising the harvesting of forest products with the money ending up in their pockets.

In another development Mr Majaliwa directed the Rufiji District Executive Director (DED) Mr Rashid Salum, to consider the directives he issued to the Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism, Professor Jumanne Maghembe, over the Ikwiri roadblock when he held a meeting with the ministry’s staff.

On July 18, the Prime Minister visited the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, where he held a meeting with district and regional level officials. During that meeting, among other issues, Mr Majaliwa directed the ministry to look into the possibility of reducing roadblocks for inspection of forest products.

He also emphasized on integrity, hard work and accountability.

Four days later, Prof Maghembe reformed the Tanzania Forest Services (TFS) by transferring its Chief Executive Officer Gerald Kamwenda, senior directors and 41 other staff members.

During the meeting yesterday, Rufiji Member of Parliament Mohammed Mchengelwa told the Prime Minister that some officials in the district were disregarding queries raised by residents, a move that prompted loss of trust in their government.

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