Restrictive measures against excessive charcoal loading

Police traffic say restrictive measures will be taken against charcoal dealers who overload their trucks with charcoal. The latter say they do so because traffic police ask them to pay bribes.

Trucks overloaded with charcoal

Trucks overloaded with charcoal

“We meet various roadblocks set up by some civilians and the police on our way to the capital Bujumbura. Both of them take bribes to facilitate a free movement”, says Léonard Nizigiyimana, one of the 100 charcoal dealers from the association “Igiti ni Ubuzima” (Tree is life). Nizigiyimana says they haven’t any other choice than bribing them to move off.

Jeanine Niyongendako, another charcoal dealer, has the same view as Nizigiyimana. He says if the police want them to obey the law, they must also control the behavior of their traffic road agents at different roadblocks.

“We are obliged to give bribes instead of presenting official documents, the reason why we load up our trucks with charcoal”, she said.

Cyprien Ndabitura, another charcoal trader, says the administrative officials also push them into bribery. “The chief of the police stations asked us to show documents that don’t even exist just for the sake of being bribed. We do not know if there are existing official documents required to move from one commune to another”, he says.

Ndabitura says all charcoal dealers are aware of the danger of overloading their trucks but they do not have any other choice.

All of these challenges have been raised in the meeting with the traffic police and the association of charcoal dealers on 11 January 2017. They have reached an agreement. “Those who do not comply with the loading regulations are normally fined BIF 100,000. Unfortunately, those regulations are violated. Charcoal traders choose to bribe traffic agents and overload their vehicles to gain more”, says Alfred Innocent Museremu, Head of Traffic Police. He says a common agreement has been signed to put an end to the issue. “Each truck must be overloaded up to 2.5 m high and covered with tarps”, he says.

Museremu asks charcoal sellers to always denounce all suspicious acts, if not; serious restrictive measures will be taken against them.

About 15 charcoal trucks go to Bujumbura town everyday and each of them contains about 70 charcoal sacks. According to the 2014 UNDP report, the wood is used to cover 100% of domestic energy needs in Burundi and accounts for 95% of the national energy balance.