Jaksally Development Organisation, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) operating in the Northern part of the country has revealed that, despite the claim by traditional rulers and government that there is a ban on rosewood in the Savannah Region (SR), the tree is being harvested with impunity, while authorities play the ostrich.
It was on Monday, 10th May, 2021, that Chiefs in the Savannah region unanimously agreed to ban the harvesting, processing and transportation of rosewood in the Savannah region.
Addressing a press conference at the forecourt of the palace of the overlord of the Gonja Traditional Area, to announce the ban, the Chairman in charge of the five-member committee instituted to see to an end to the menace in the region, Bolewura Safo Kutugefeso said, anyone found culpable would be made to pay heavy fine.
According to Chairman of the Committee, it would be hopeless if the leadership of the House of Chiefs and government in the region pretend to allow what he described as ill, unfriendly, mordant, heart burning, barbaric, devastating, and merciless environmental collapse activities continue.
The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr Samuel Abdulai Jinapor also gave his blessing to the action taken by the Chiefs.
But, less than two months after announcing the ban, Jaksally Development Organisation has revealed that, rosewood is still being harvested, processed and transported from the region where the Minister for Lands and Forestry originates.
“All through the presence and noise making that rosewood has been banned, there is still processing, transportation and harvesting of rosewood in the Savannah region where the Minister for Lands and Forestry originates. The Yipala plant which was closed some time ago is in full swing productions and process”, the statement said.
The NGO disclosed that, the rosewood processing plant which is deemed to be operating illegally is not up to 5km from the ministers’ residence in his constituency at Damongo.
“Rosewood is still being harvested in Savannah Region, Damongo and surroundings in West Gonja and it is being processed in Yipaala, Kafaba and Kulor in East Gonja and transported over the Black Volta into Tema and South”, the statement added.
The ghost taskforce
In announcing the ban, Bolewura Safo Kutugefeso said, a taskforce had been formed to clamp down on the illegal harvesters and questions are now being asked about their whereabout.
This was what the Chief said at the time “The leadership of the Region has been accused, called all sort of names, mentioned in songs produced by musicians, discuss in deterrent fora on all social platforms in the Region. Enough is Enough. The Regional House want to assure the taskforces formed, the youth, men and women, the aged, chiefs, children, friends and love ones in the Savannah Region that the leadership of the House is awake and will do everything possible within our means to nib the environmental canker in the bud”.
Minister on salvage permits
Answering questions on the Floor of Parliament and interacting with the press corps on Monday August 2, 2021, Minister of Lands and Natural Resources Mr. Samuel Abdulai Jinapor said “Between January 7, 2017 and January 7, 2021, a total of 104 different companies were granted salvage permits to evacuate Rosewood from the bush”.
He pointed out that “an analysis of the figures showed that while the number of permits issued between January 7, 2017 and January 7, 2021 far exceeds the permits issued between January 7, 2013 and January 7, 2017, more Rosewood was salvaged and exported from the country between 2013 and 2017 than between 2017 and 2021.”
No authorization but harvesting ongoing
He noted that since he became the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources on March 5, 2021, he had not, to date, granted a single authorization for the harvesting, salvaging or exporting of Rosewood.
The Minister said he did not intend to grant authorisation in the foreseeable future until such time that the Government is satisfied that the harvesting of the species will be sustainable.
It is therefore surprising that, rosewood is still being harvested, processed and transported few from an illegal processing plant which is few away metres from the resident of the Minister.
The Founder and Executive Director of Jaksally Development Organisation, Mr. Jeremiah Seidu is therefore the Minister to immediately ensure the closure of the Yipala plant which is operating illegally.