The Gombe State government is waging a war against indiscriminate tree felling and booming sale of firewood which is threatening the environment and depleting forest in the state.
An investigation by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) revealed that more than 20 truck-loads of firewood are offloaded daily at Tashan Dukku Junction in Gombe between 7a.m. and 9a.m.
The investigation also showed other countless roadside dealers of firewood across major streets of Gombe metropolis and suburbs of Tumfure and Yelenguruza quarters.
A cross section of the dealers told NAN that the cost of kerosene and cooking gas was responsible for the high demand for firewood in the state.
A major dealer, who spoke with NAN on condition of anonymity, said firewood business was good with huge patronage, and that he had been in the business for more than six years.
“I built my house in the village and I am now building another one here in Tumfure. I am taking up my responsibilities as a man.
“The business is offering me more than what some civil servants in the state get. So I am comfortable as long as I am doing my business without hitches,’’ he said.
He noted that the state government’s task force had made supplies of firewood from various villages difficult as they often arrested the trucks but said he was never deterred by their activities since he had evolved ways of evading arrest.
Another firewood seller, Hajiya Zainab Abubakar, said: “The business is booming because many of us are farmers and there is no money to get gas and even kerosene.
“If money is available, we will be using gas like every other person. It is with the proceeds I get from here that I am feeding and supporting my family.’’
Malam Yahaya Usman of Tumfure said he was aware of the negative impact of tree felling to the forest in Gombe but noted he had no means of feeding his household than selling firewood and charcoal.
He said the act of tree felling could affect the environment negatively, adding that if massive tree-planting exercises were carried out, the dangers would be averted.
Reacting to the development, Alhaji Sa’ad Hashidu, Director of Forestry and Wildlife Management, Gombe State Ministry of Environment, said deforestation was a serious challenge in the state.
Hashidu explained that the government was aware of the activities of firewood merchants and had taken steps to curb the menace to avoid desertification.
He said governor of the state, Ibrahim Dankwambo, inaugurated a task force to handle cases of deforestation in the state. (NAN)