Forestry Commission Staff Are Criminals – Minister

James Zuuga Tiiga (2nd L) questioning the Indian man

Some staff of the Forestry Commission in the Upper East region are up in arms against the Upper East Regional Minister, James Zuuga Tiigah for describing them as ‘criminals.’

Staff of the Commission, who spoke to DAILY GUIDE in separate interviews, said the Regional Minister, who was not happy with the harvesting of some Teak trees in the Red Volta East Forest Reserve at Tili, failed to act impartially by asking for official explanation from the Commission.

According to them, he denigrated all workers of the Commission in the region in the media.

‘I am sure if he sees defects on any road in the region or any government department, he will call the officers in charge to explain, so in our case why did he ignore everyone here, including my bosses and go to the media to brand us as criminals? Initially, the others and I thought he was frustrated on that day when he saw the logs by the road side, but the way in which he refused to call my bosses for explanation and went straight to the media to paint everyone here black gives me reason to suspect that he has something against the Forestry Commission,’ an angry staff said.

On July 20, 2015 the Upper East Regional Minister, while traveling on the Tili-Zebilla road, came across some packed teak logs along the road in Bawku West District.

The reports said the Regional Minister, who thought that someone was illegally harvesting the trees from the Red Volta East Forest Reserve, angrily stopped and asked the Police to arrest an Indian national, who was supervising the harvesting of Teak trees on behalf of Zenith Impex Ghana Ltd.

The Indian was detained by the police and granted bail the following day.

The said logs meant for export were also impounded by the Upper East Regional Police Command.

The Bawku District Manager of the Forest Services Department of the Forest Commission, Abdallah Seidu Ali, in an interview with DAILY GUIDE, said the regional minister should have asked the Forestry Commission for explanation before causing the arrest of the Indian.

‘The company was not doing anything illegal, they had permission from above and all requirements were met. They had signed their Social Responsibility Agreement, paid what is due the community and the Stumpage Fee to government as at the end of June 2015. If the Minister had exercised a little patience and regarded the role of the Forestry Commission, this disgrace and mistrust created between us and the Zenith Impex Gh. Ltd wouldn’t have happened, he noted.

The District Manager said apart from compulsory amount paid to the Tili Community, many of the inhabitants had been employed by the company.

FROM: Ebo Bruce-Quansah, Bolgatanga

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