In a bid to arrest deforestation currently ravaging the country, the Federal Government of Nigeria has placed a ban on the export of charcoal just as hundreds of trucks loaded with the commodity are currently lying fallow at the ports and exporters counting loss.

Although the Memo giving the directive to stop the ban of charcoal could not be obtained by our Correspondent, the Deputy National Public Relations of the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, Mr. Timi Bomodi, a Deputy Comptroller said that Charcoal from wood is what has been banned. Bomodi also said that natural coal is not prohibited from export, adding that only coal made from wood burning is currently on the prohibition list of exports.

Similarly, the National Public Relation Officer of the Customs Service, Mr. Joseph Atta, said that it is for the Customs to ban any items as the agency is only meant to carry out the policies of the Government.

Speaking on the development, the Customs Public Relations Officer of the Tin-can Island Port, Mr. Uche Ejieseme said that the Command recently received a Circular that Charcoal is now banned. A driver of one of the trucks loaded with charcoal said that there is a big problem as many trucks of charcoal that were on their way to the ports were rejected and refused entry into the ports as they were asked to turn back.

Speaking on the development, Secretary General of Tropical Wood Exporters Association of Nigeria, TWEAN, Mr. Joseph Odiase said that the ban on charcoal has been on for some time, it is just that Nigerians claimed to be ignorant of the ban. Odiase also said the ban was not effective because the exporting public were probably not sanitized enough hence the continued exportation despite the embargo.

He also said that what was banned was wood and related products which include coal, but was not categorically spelt as charcoal. He explained that the issue about forest and forest product exportation is not about the environment because there is a large clamour about climate change.

“The fact of the matter is that they can be independent of their environment.” He queried

He said: “Charcoal has been banned since, even this year people still exported but it has been banned long before now. I think it was more of ignorance on the part of the exporter and improper awareness and sensitization on the part of the government.

“Initially, what was communicated was partial, what the circular said was wood and related products which includes charcoal but because it was not categorically spelt out as charcoal it has been banned long ago.

“What government should be talking about is preservation of the environment, doing business alongside sustainable preservation of the environment.

“Sustainable harvesting of wood and wood products is what the government should be talking about. You cannot say people should not trade, you cannot say people should not do business.

“If we do not cut these woods, we do not turn them to charcoal, we do not turn them into furniture, we do not use them to build houses, these wood will grow and die.

“What are we supposed to do, we are supposed to put a sustainable mechanism of planting, aforestation and all that, that is why we have the National Forest Trust Fund.

There were over fifty fully loaded trucks of charcoal stock at Truck Part waiting to get into the ports but were denied entry due to the circular on the ban.

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