Forestry Commission dismantles two check points on Accra/Nkawkaw road

Accra, Nov.19, GNA - The Forestry Commission (FC) has closed down two check points on the Accra/Nkawkaw road to enable free movement of lumber to the various markets.

The Nsaba check point near Nkawkaw is closed while the Bunso check point in the Eastern region would be closed on Monday November 23.

The Commission said other roads across the country with too many check points would also be reduce.

Mr John Allotey, Chief Executive Officer of FC, said this on Thursday when he interacted with the Nkawkaw Timber Market Association to address their challenges.

The FC boss said his outfit had received complaints that the check points were too many on the roads and that the officials manning them constantly harassed and impounded their vehicles when they were transporting the lumber to the markets.

Mr Allotey said the officials who worked at the closed check points would be sent to the forest to protect the trees from illegal chainsaw activities and as well educate them on the need to preserve the country's ecosystem.

He explained that it would be better for the Commission to enforce the laws at the forest gate rather than arresting the wood operators on the roads when they had already cut the trees for the market.

Mr Allotey said the Commission would continue to engage with the private wood operators at the various timber markets to intensify education on the documentation processes required in carrying out their businesses to avoid flouting the laws governing the protection of the forest.

He urged the wood operators to register with the Timber Industry Development Division of the FC, responsible for overseeing and ensuring compliance to the laws, regulations and procedures along the supply chain from the carting of logs to the industry floor and to export or trade on the domestic market.

Mr Allotey stated the Commission's commitment to create the enabling and friendly environment for stakeholders in the timber industry to improve on their businesses subject to the law.

This,he explained, would create the needed job opportunities for the teeming youth in the country.

In June 2009, the government of Ghana ratified the voluntary partnership agreements with the European Union to control illegal logging.

The agreement enforces the requirement for communities to provide written consent before logging takes place on their land. It also commits Ghana to a participatory review of forest policy, regulation and intuitions.

Nana Kofi Asante, Chairman of the Nkawkaw Timber Market Association, commended the Commission for reducing the check points, stressing that the seizure of truckloads of lumber by officials of the Commission had been the main challenge affecting the association.

He pledged to collaborate with the Commission to address the issue of illegal felling of trees in the forest and the acquisition of permits and other documentations to transport the lumber to the market.