By Philip Buda Ladu
South Sudan’s Central Equatoria State Transitional Legislative Assembly (STLA) has summoned the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Environment, Minister of Local Government and Law Enforcement Agency, and Kajo-Keji County Commissioner to answer questions concerning the alarming unpleasant security situation and the state of forest logging in Kajo-Keji County.
The summon came following an urgent motion moved to the State Legislative Assembly on Wednesday by Hon. Mila Amos Peter, a lawmaker representing Kajo-Keji County and signed by 10 other MPs from Kajo-Keji.
The MPs who signed the motion along with Amos Mila are; Hon. Dabe Francis Murye, Hon. Lokonga Julius Eliyuda, Hon. Ide Florence Nyoka, Hon. Kiden Joyce Eluzai, Hon. Betty Poni, Hon. Alex Yugu Jale, Hon. Phanuel Duma Jame, Hon. Geri Scopas Emma, Hon. Gale Jackson Matata and Hon. Amos Mila.
The summon seeks answers from the two ministers and the Kajo-Keji County Commissioner on the persistent lucrative illegal logging business in the county despite executive orders being issued by State and local authorities to stop the activity following community and public outcry.
After tabling of the urgent motion Hon. Members of the Transitional Legislative Assembly in Central Equatoria State unanimously approved the motion saying it should be amplified to cover the whole State and Kajo-Keji being used as a reference with the available evidence gathered.
The lawmakers resolved for the appearance of the 2 ministers and Commissioner of Kajo-Keji County to provide answers to the house on the serious concerns raised. The MPs also recommended for the formation of a parliamentary committee to go to the grassroots and investigate the issue further.
James Modi Lomindi, the Chairperson of the Committee for Information, Culture Youth and Sports at the STLA affirmed that the assembly had resolved for the presence of the two ministers and the Commissioner of Kajo-Keji County to appear before the Parliament and answer questions in regards to logging and insecurity in Kajo-Keji County.
Lomindi said “it is a concern that the legislative assembly sees that there are hands of people concern in government that have given opportunities for companies that are logging forests in Central Equatoria and in particular Kajo-Keji, Morobo, Yei River and many other parts of this State”.
“It is a concern that the assembly has seen that it is necessary that the two ministers and the County Commissioner come to answer why there are issuance of permits given to these companies and yet orders have been made and they are continuing to cut down the forest” Hon. Lomindi asserted.
He however, underlined that they are also concerned as a government that there are hands of people existing in the bushes, the so-called rebels having hands in cutting down these important forest and trees that are existing in the Republic of South Sudan, Central Equatoria State, particularly in all the 6 counties of the State.
“Hopefully by next week we are going to have the two ministers and the Commissioner here on Monday particularly to have this siting done and questions addressed. We normally have an opportunity of 7 days for the ministers to prepare themselves for those questions so that they are here,” Hon. Lomindi told journalists about the date for the officials to appear before the house.
The State Assembly also resolved to formulate and send a parliamentary committee to go on the ground for an extensive investigation of the forests logging and report back to the parliament.
Logging business has been ongoing in Kajo-Keji during the recent armed conflict. It expanded and increased in scale worse than ever known in the history of deforestation in South Sudan. The scenario has continued consistently amid executive orders even after the formation of the RTGoNU.