The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Forestry Commission, Mr. John Allotey, has directed the immediate removal of the lumber checkpoints at Kwahu-Nsabaa and Bunso on the Accra-Kumasi Highway from today.
He explained that the move was to make it possible for genuine dealers in lumber to transport the product from the hinterland to market centres unhindered.
Mr. Allotey indicated that similar measures would be taken along other trunk roads in the country.
Briefing the media after visiting the Kwahu-Nsabaa and Bunso checkpoints as well as others in the Eastern Region last Thursday, Mr. Allotey said the exercise was being done in a way that would not lead to the depletion of the country's forests.
He said there was no need to constantly arrest dealers of wood products at the checkpoints since the trees had already been cut down and processed.
He added that the directive was not to impede wood business flow but rather to ensure that users of wood products were able to secure them without hindrance.
Mr. Allotey also visited the Nkawkaw timber market where he educated wood dealers on the modalities of acquiring permits in pursuit of their business, so that they would go about their businesses without being arrested.
“Protecting trees in the forest is very important and educating the wood dealers is also important; we are assessing the various trunk roads to see which one is most likely to be closed down for now.
“We are rather to push more of our men closer to the forest to protect the forest; some of the men are to carry out a lot of education to the people, especially those in the timber business so that they will know which kind of documents and the processes they need to go through to transport the lumber to the market places", the CEO said.
Mr. Oppong Sasu, Executive Director of the Forestry Division, with Mrs. Joyce Ofori Kwafo, PRO of the Forestry Commission, at one of the checkpoints
Mr. Allotey stressed that the commission was not against people dealing in timber but that they must do it the right way.
"Regional managers and executive directors are also reviewing various trunk roads in the Eastern Region and other parts of the country to see how best some of the checkpoints will be closed down", he added.
The Chairman of the Nkawkaw Timber Market, Nana Kofi Asante, on behalf of his colleagues, commended the Forestry Commission CEO for his familiarisation visit to the area.
He, however, expressed worry about the frequent arrests, especially the chainsaw operators who feed them with wood products.
He said it was proper to have the right permits before they cut down trees and, therefore, appealed to his people to obtain the required permits to avoid unnecessary arrests by forestry guards.