Even as the new Minister for Lands and Natural Resources seems poised to lead the effort to Green Ghana, the Illegal rosewood trade continues. How can Ghana be greened when officials and institutions are directly or indirectly through their complicity de-greening Ghana?
On Friday 25th June 2021, the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Hon. Abu Jinapor, appeared before the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament with a team from his Ministry to answer to infractions made against his Ministry in the Auditor General’s report on MDAs for the year ending December 2017.
As would be expected, I sort permission from the Chairman of the committee, Hon. Aveje, to ask the Minister why after 5 years of a reinforced ban on the harvesting, transportation and export of rosewood, the Illegal rosewood trade continues, and whether:
a) He will consider giving effect to the recommendations by the Benito Committee report, which was in reaction to the US based Environmental Intelligence Agency (EIA) report, which alleged official complicity and the role of ruling party officials in the illegal trade and;
b) If he will implement recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee on Lands and Forestry on the illegal harvesting and export of Rosewood, especially, a halt in the issuance of salvage permits.
Apparently, on the same day, as a trusted source later alerted me, developments at the Tema port confirmed that the outrageous illegal trade was rife in spite of denials by officialdom, as many already know. A number of continues at the Tema port designated for shipment suspected to contain illegal charcoal, turned out to contain rosewood when opened.
My sources tell me the manger of the terminal and the exporter tried to prevent Ghana Energy Commission officials from opening the containers by calling "big men" (corrupt, evil nation wrecker in my opinion). Present at the opening of the containers were Customs officials, Energy Commission officials, but interestingly, Forestry Commission officials, who were invited and had promised to show up, failed to be present. Are you suprised?
Simply put, the ban on illegal harvesting, transportation and export of rosewood remains a hoax. The same institutions, officials and entities expected to enforce the ban are not only overseeing its violation, but elements therein, are profiting from the destruction of the Savanna Ecological Forest.
How can we claim to be greening Ghana when public, government officials and institutions are busy de-greening Ghana for personal gains?
In the meantime, I'm following the development closely. As well, I've filed a number of questions to the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources on the illegal harvesting, transportation and export of rosewood.
Staggering figures by the EIA
A new data by the Washington DC based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), in February this year says, 9,031,570 Kilograms (kg) of rosewood, an equivalent of $ 5,663,782 were imported by China from Ghana in December 2020 while bans on its harvest and export have been in place.
According to the staggering EIA’s analysis, 199,160,119 kg of rosewood, an equivalent of 124,073,247 USD was imported into China from Ghana since March 2019 when the last ban started.
The ongoing illegal activity was discovered through EIA’s Rosewood Revealed, a web tool created to enable Ghanaian citizens know the quantity and value of illegal rosewood exported into China from Ghana every month. The source of data according to the EIA, is the Chinese Customs data based on the Global Trade Atlas (GTA).