The Kenyan government, through the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, has undertaken an ambitious program of making sure that Kenya attains 10 percent forest cover.
The initiative was launched following the rising deforestation across the country due to illegal logging, which resulted in forest cover below 6 percent.
To help restore the forests in the country, the government banned logging in all public forests. Most businesses and investors dealing in wood and timber were caught unaware and were forced to close shop.
The construction sector was the hardest hit by the ban on logging. Timber prices skyrocketed and many contractors were unable to afford the rising costs.
For many years, timber has been a key component in construction. Among other uses, timber is used for roofing, holding pillars and beams during constructions, the making of doors and frames, drawers and more!
Those who deal in furniture are feeling the heat too. Currently, furniture costs are among the most expensive commodities on the market. For instance, a wooden bed that could go for 6,000 shillings in the not too distant past is now retailing at between 10,000 and 15,000 shillings.
The truth is that Kenyans have depended on wood and trees too much, and when that resource was cut off, their businesses went to shambles. However, what most people do not know is that there are alternatives to wood, which are just as effective and a lot more affordable, plus they don’t harm the environment!
It is high time Kenyans started embracing the use of steel to compliment wood if we want to protect our forests.
I know many will argue that steel is more expensive than wood, but the truth is for large construction projects, steel is relatively more affordable than wood. Again, there are minimal or no wastages when steel is used.
If we managed to impose a ban on plastics and Kenyans (98% of them embraced alternative packaging), what can stop us from embracing steel?
I once visited the Apex Steel Limited in Industrial Area along Funzi Road, and I discovered the treasure we have been brushing aside as we watch our forests choking under the hands of loggers.
In my opinion, the government should make it mandatory (for certain projects) to be using steel instead of timber if we’d like to change the narrative on Kenya’s environment issues moving forward.