By Maxwell Nkansah
Five containers of rosewood meant for export have been impounded at the Tema Port. The containers were impounded after officials of the Energy Commission raised suspicion they possibly contained illegal charcoal. Seizure notices were placed on the containers after Energy Commission officials raised red flag making it impossible for the containers to be exported.
When the containers were eventually opened about a week later, it was confirmed the logs were rosewood. The scheduled export was happening at a time when the government had insisted it has banned the harvesting, transportation and export of rosewood as part of efforts to save the endangered species.
Lands and Natural Resources Minister, Samuel Abu Jinapor, said the ban, which was first instituted in 2013, is still in force. An investigation has repeatedly revealed that the illegal trade continues despite the ban. Investigations by United States-based Environmental Investigation Agency, as well as investigations by Parliament’s Lands and Natural Resources Committee, and the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources have confirmed the illegal trade continues despite the ban.
Member of Parliament for Builsa South, Dr Clement Apaak, who has been a staunch campaigner for an end to the illegal rosewood trade, says he is disappointed the illegal export is still ongoing despite the ban. Writing on Facebook, he said; “even as the new Minister for Lands and Natural Resources seems poised to lead the effort to green Ghana, the Illegal rosewood trade continues.
“On Friday 25th June 2021, the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Hon. Abu Jinapor, appeared before the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament with a team from his Ministry to answer to infractions made against his Ministry in the Auditor General’s report on MDAs for the year ending December 2017.
The developments at the Tema port confirmed that the outrageous illegal trade was rife in spite of denials by officialdom, as many already know. A number of containers at the Tema port designated for shipment suspected to contain illegal charcoal, turned out to contain rosewood when opened.
Dr Apaak is alleging there is an attempt by influential people in society to cover up. “A source told him the manager of the terminal and the exporter tried to prevent Ghana Energy Commission officials from opening the containers by calling ‘big men’. Present at the opening of the containers were Customs officials, Energy Commission officials, but interestingly, Forestry Commission officials, who were invited and had promised to show up, failed to be present. Are you surprised?” he quizzed.
The ban on illegal harvesting, transportation and export of rosewood remains a hoax. Some institutions, officials and entities expected to enforce the ban are not only overseeing its violation, but elements therein, are profiting from the destruction of the Savanna Ecological Forest. A meeting has been scheduled for 10:am Monday morning at the Tema Port office of the Ghana Revenue Authority at which all parties including the exporters will decide on what to do with the containers of rosewood.