The Ghana Timber Association (GTA), made up of timber merchants in the country, has expressed disgust at an unlawful checkpoint set up at Bunsu in the Eastern Region by a task force allegedly operating under the instructions Okyehene, Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panyin, King of Akyem Abuakwa.
In a press statement, the President of the Ghana Timber Association, Mr. Alex Dadzie, said the Association had received reports of an unlawful checkpoint set up by the said taskforce, using a pick up vehicle with the inscription, ‘Susubiribi’ on it.
“Our men are also complaining that, they are being delayed unnecessarily under the guise that they (taskforce members) were checking the authenticity of their documents without the involvement of officials of the Forestry Commission (FC),” Mr. Dadzie claimed.
“We find this unacceptable since it is not their responsibility to check the veracity of documents. Their action is causing needless delays and costs to our members who are doing legitimate business,” he stated.
Mr. Alex Dadzie, condemned the action by the taskforce, claiming, “it isn’t only unlawful but detrimental to timber trade in the country”.
Mr. Dadzie alleged that, “besides delaying (at times for a whole day or two) trucks carrying timber from other regions, passing through the Eastern Region, those in charge of the illegal checkpoint charge are alleged to be taking some monies from each truck; this must be condemned by all stakeholders and those interested in the growth of the industry”.
“The GTA is, therefore, shocked at the attempt by the taskforce under the respectable king to act unilaterally in the setting up of a checkpoint that only the legitimate Organization (FC) is mandated to establish”.
He explained that, the high number of checkpoints leads to high cost of doing business. “Stopping and delaying trucks at numerous checkpoints, lead to rise in transportation costs and we disappointing our clients. Drivers charge extra fees when they take longer than usual to convey our goods and we also end up failing to meet our clients’ deadlines.”
Forestry contributes about 6% of Ghana’s Gross Domestic Products (GDP) and the activities of GTA ensure the conservation of Ghana’s forests as they follow sustainability rules in their operations.
According to Mr. Dadzie, the Association would be meeting with the leadership of the Forestry Commission to see to an immediate end to the mounting of the needless checkpoint, and hopes the Commission would investigate the matter to bring culprits to book.
“We are not against the setting up of timber checkpoints to ensure legality compliance, but we can’t accept illegal checkpoints that delay our work and turn out to be means of extorting monies from legitimate timber traders in the country,” he maintained in the statement.
He assured Ghanaians that the GTA would not condone any illegality on the part of its members or any other person(s) whatsoever.