Ghanaians working in the forestry sector, particularly wood dealers have been told to brace up for what could be termed as strict measures meant to sanitize the industry and rid the markets of illegally sourced timber products.
The Move according to the Forestry Commission is part of the implementation of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) which Ghana signed with the European Union. The VPA is a legally-binding bilateral trade agreement that aims to improve forest governance and promote trade in legal timber from Ghana to the EU.
Dr Ben Donkor, Executive Director of the Timber Industry Development Division (TIDD) at the Forestry Commission said in an interview with Public Agenda that the VPA is currently being rolled out and “we shall not allow illegally sourced wood to get to both export and domestic markets.
Dr Donkor explained that, the main feature in the VPA is the wood tracking system. “We are tracking the wood to ensure that everything from the source, i.e. the harvesting source to the processing Centre to the market is legally sourced.”
“So all that we are doing is trying to develop the system and set things right…so manualy,we sometimes engage them[wood dealers] on the road, challenge them about the documents that will prove the legality of the material they are conveying.”
He made these remarks in response to some protest by wood dealers and some plantation owners about impediment being put on their way when they are conveying their products from the sawmills to the various markets.
The voluntary partnership Agreement, according to him, “is here to stay. there is no way we are going to give concession to persons holding illegal materials so if they will yield to the system, they should do so by acquiring the appropriate documents to cover their products otherwise if you step on the road we will accost you.”
He hinted the Commission would soon enter the market, sanitize it, and do away with all illegal wood products.
According to him, the Commission have had several engagement with the wood dealers to sensitize them about the agreement and how it would be rolled out, adding that though the implementation is at a pilot stage, the Commission is poised to ensure that the system works efficiently.
He said the Commission has no intention to put impediment in anybody’s way as far as they do the right thing by acquiring the appropriate documents during transit.
He said most of the people who are making the noise are those who do not have the appropriate documents and want to bulldoze their way through the system, insisting that the Forestry Commission would not allow that to happen.
By Mohammed Suleman