The closure of about 150 sawmills in Kenya’s Rift Valley Province has left more than 10,000 people jobless, after provincial commissioner Peter Raburu ordered the closure and instructed police to impound vehicles found carrying timber or logs.

Provincial forest officer Josephat Bundotich said that the order affected Rai Plywood and Pan Paper Mills which had previously been exempted from the ban on logging. Now all logging activities have been stopped and no firm is exempted. Sawmillers had been harvesting trees from forests excised for human settlements.

The province had 221 sawmills in 1995 but their number was down to 150 following the ban on logging, and these depended on logs from new settlements.