I know it sounds weird, but I couldn’t help admiring the load of timber that I saw on a pickup truck last week.
“This is good stuff!” I told the driver. “Where is it from?”
He agreed that it was indeed good stuff and that he bought it in Meru.
“They get it from Uganda,” he added.
And I thought we only smuggle brides and maize from Uganda! Good to know we are now exchanging miraa for timber in the old barter trade of pre Vasco da Gama Africa. Problem is, what happens to Kenyans who cannot travel to Meru to buy timber from Kampala?
There has been a ban on logging for ages, one that Dr Noah Wekesa has been pleading with the Cabinet to lift for eons. But I guess there are many more urgent matters to sort out.
The end result is that people spend as much as Sh600,000 on roofing timber in Nairobi. That is a little cruel considering that Soita Shitanda is going nuts encouraging people in towns to borrow and build homes in a country where lending rates are so wild that loan sharks are no longer considered expensive.
More hilarious is that when that Sh600,000 worth of roofing timber isn’t smuggled in from Uganda – or Congo as I suspect – it is harvested from underage trees that Wekesa has been pleading with us to plant in honour of Prof Wangari Maathai. Meanwhile, ancient lumber worth billions is rotting in State-owned forests.
I know there is a misguided view that forests bring rain, probably one panicky reason we still hoard those over aged exotic trees in Government forests. But that is a fallacy because as you recall, a former minister made it clear rain comes from the sky.
But even if rain did miraculously emerge from forests, it wouldn’t be cypress and blue gum. Mono-cultural and exotic tree plantations have massive commercial value but their ecological might isn’t worth a farthing. Do you picture an elephant hanging around a cypress bush? What for?
I suspect rain would emerge from our indigenous forests, which are rich in biodiversity, complete with little ponds and noisy birds.