A Kenya Forest official in Msambweni sub-county, Kwale county is at war with residents who accuse him of colluding with charcoal dealers to destroy mangrove forests in the area. According to the residents led by Suleiman Abdalla who spoke to reporters at Ukunda, forester Maghanga had allegedly formed cartels within Msambweni and Lunga-Lunga villages to monitor and protect his illegal charcoal business activities. Maghanga is also accused of arresting residents on trumped-up charges. The official according to the residents had regular altercations with the late area, MP Suleiman Dori, with claims that he had demanded Sh500, 000 from the legislator for him to be allowed to do a community project at Gazi area.
“He told the MP that unless he was paid Sh500,000, he could not allow the project to go on. Dori declined to pay the money arguing that he could not bribe for him to be allowed to put up a community project. He also once allowed people to cut mangrove trees but after they failed to pay the agreed amount, he arrested them and took them to court, making his relationship with the community to deteriorate,” a resident pointed out. It is claimed, the official was once recorded while drunk saying: “Ikiwa mkubwa wangu anakula, kwanini nisile? (if my boss eats, why should I not eat). It was not clear if he was referring to the chief conservator of forest or which boss. The residents also claimed Maghanga had also threatened the Chinese contractor who did the Kanana-Shimoni road which was launched by William Ruto. The residents have called for the immediate removal of Maghanga from the area, saying he had outlived his usefulness in protecting forests in the county.