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RESPONSE TO ALLEGATIONS OF WRONG SEIZURE OF WOOD FROM SOKOBAN WOOD DEALERS
Posted: 04 Feb 2019

 

 

                                                          PRESS STATEMENT

RESPONSE TO ALLEGATIONS OF WRONG SEIZURE OF WOOD FROM SOKOBAN WOOD DEALERS BY FORESTRY COMMISSION MONITORING TEAMS

 

Introduction

For the past year and a half, there has been allegations and outcry from wood dealers from Sokoban Wood Village in Kumasi, about unlawful seizure of their wood by Forestry Commission Monitoring Teams. On January 8, 2019, a group of wood dealers, numbering about forty – five (45), besieged the Forestry Commission (FC) Headquarters, located on the GIMPA Road.  The reason for their presence on the Commission’s premises was to present their grievances to the Chief Executive. Among them, were:

  1. Forestry Commission staff and or Monitoring Teams at the various check points seize wood with supposedly genuine documents.
  2. Vehicles conveying wood are stopped and checked unnecessarily by Forestry Commission Monitoring Teams.
  3. Vehicles carrying seized wood are held up for days at Forestry Commission check points and the Achimota Depot for weeks.

The group was received by the Deputy Chief Executive of Forestry Commission, Mr. John Allotey, as the Chief Executive, Mr. Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, was away in Kumasi for official duties. At the meeting, the following were agreed upon between the two factions:

  1.  The supposedly genuine documents covering the seized wood of members of the Sokoban Wood Village will be investigated to ascertain their genuineness or otherwise.
  2. Culprits in the case will be duly punished to serve as deterrent to others and to avoid the recurrence of such issues.

Mode of Investigations

 The investigation took the form of studying the documents presented by the wood dealers, visits to the companies where the wood was purported to have originated from, reports from the check points, interviews with persons involved in the issues and others.

 

Investigation Results and Observations

At the end of thorough investigations, the following came out:

  1. Owners of seized wood had forged the signatures of owners of timber milling firms or timber companies on their illegally acquired waybills and gate passes. For instance the signature of the Log Yard Manager of Log (LLL) was forged in some instances.
  2. The claims of the wood dealers as having secured their wood legally from recognized sawmills were false.
  3. Some Forestry Commission staff were found to have been involved in issuing false documents to the wood dealers. For instance, Mr. Stephen Ampontuah who was formerly stationed at the Logs & Lumber Limited in Kumasi, was found to have embroiled himself in these illegalities and has therefore been relieved of his post.
  4. Checks at LLL, Daniel Owusu 2010 Timbers and other timber mills indicated that these companies had not sold wood to any company (ies) or individual (s) from the Sokoban Wood Village even though they produced documents from these companies to support their alleged wood transactions.
  5. In the case of Hayshien Wood and Construction Limited, the related documents indicated that the wood was to be transported from Mehame in the Brong Ahafo Region to Kumasi but the truck was arrested in Accra.
  6. Forestry Commission taskforce teams conduct physical inspection of every truck carrying wood at the various check points. Therefore before any truck will be arrested or detained, the team would have had some level of suspicion.
  7. Some trucks also carry proper sawmill wood but the source is doubtful as the supposed sawmill owners are not able to declare the legitimate sources forests from where those trees were felled , either in the forest reserve or salvage permit areas outside forest reserves.
  8. It was also noticed that registration numbers of the trucks carrying the wood are different from the ones stated on the documents covering the wood.
  9. Stock numbers are repeated on different documents which is an indication of deliberate felling outside the approved number of trees.

 

Conclusion

The above findings from the investigations conducted by Forestry Commission officials indicated that the claims of the wood dealers have no basis. The arrested trucks were carrying illegally sourced wood and they have managed to cover it with forged documents.

Wood dealers from the Sokoban Wood Village wrongfully accused the Chief Executive of Forestry Commission, Mr. Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, and the Forestry Commission monitoring teams for seizing their wood.

Another point worth noting is that whenever the wood is seized, the owners or drivers of the trucks quickly submit to sworn affidavit(s), indicating that they would not indulge in such acts again. So if they were really not guilty, they would not have sworn the affidavit. The FC therefore, resorts to alternative dispute resolution mechanism in resolving such cases without delay.

The Forestry Commission takes this opportunity to once again inform all prospective and present wood dealers that their doors are always opened for consultations on how to deal in legal wood. This will ensure the sustainability of our forests and ensure climate change mitigation.

Issued by:

The Chief Executive

Forestry Commission

Accra

January 29, 2019

 

For further information, contact:

The Corporate Affairs & Media Relations Unit

Forestry Commission

Tel: 0302-401210/401216/ 0244- 643780

Email: info.hq@fcghana.org

Website: www.fcghana.org

 

 

 

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