Mr Benito Owusu-Bio, the Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources embarked on a fact-finding mission to the Volta Lake to ascertain the veracity of a petition submitted to his ministry by the Kete Krachi Timber Recovery company about some alleged rosewood discovered beneath the Volta Lake and the possibility of the company being exempted from the prevailing ban on exporting rosewood.
The deputy minister indicated that the petition received from the timber company reveals that in the cause of salvaging tree stumps submerged under the Volta Lake, the recovery company came across a huge quantity of rosewood estimated to be about 500 cubic meters per week.
Speaking after the fact-finding visit to the place, Mr Owusu-Bio noted that he will submit a report to his boss, Mr Samuel A. Jinapor, on the new development and hold discussions with the relevant stakeholders in considering the request presented to them.
He added that currently there is a ban on the exportation of rosewood and the government does not intend to lift the ban anytime soon.
He said the government will, in consultation with the company that nurtured the trees, consider a number of possibilities including the option of selling the rosewood to those constructing the National Cathedral.
Mr Owusu-Bio will not rule out the commercialisation of the wood, especially with the company being a private entity, but assured Ghanaians that a decision that suits the interest of all parties will be reached.
He said: “The ban has been enforced to the letter and we don’t see trucks moving from the north to the south. We’ll look at it and if we have to lift it for a specific amount to be exported, then we will look at the circumstances around it”.
“We never imagined that rosewood will be discovered here, so, when we got the petition, we wrote to the Forestry Commission to assess the viability of the claim”, he said.
"They are requesting that we grant them permission to export the rosewood and we are going to consider it. We said that we are going to give the rosewood we seize to the National Cathedral. They are also in that business as well. We are going to report to our minister, Mr Samuel A. Jinapor, and we will see how we can help them defray the cost of the work they have done here."
Elking Pianim, the CEO of Ketekrachi Timber Recovery, explained why they petitioned the ministry: “We wrote a letter seeking permission to export rosewood”.
“We need to monetise every tree that we bring. Our salvaging has not affected the environment in any way. No living tree was felled in the process. That is why we need an exemption”.
He added that aside from the rosewood, other wood species discovered under the Volta Lake are Ebony, Ofram and other unidentified woods.
Many of these, Mr Pianim said, are used for charcoal and firewood for sale to the local people and also for export across the world.
Kete Krachie Timber Recovery is a licensed company in the Volta Region with a licence to salvage trees submerged in the lake and help mitigate hazards on the water body.
The company provides over 100 direct jobs and 100 indirect jobs locally and its concessions contract runs till 2035.