Gonjas Armed Task Force to Hunt Down Rosewood Loggers

The Royal leadership of the Gonjaland in the Northern region has declared war against illegal timber merchants and commercial charcoal burners whose activities of hacking down large volumes of fresh rosewoods and other trees have threatened farmlands and food security, following failures of the forestry commission to enforce a ban placed on the activities three years ago by government.

Illegal loggers of rosewood from Asia and China have invaded the entire five Gonjaland districts ploughing down trees, raping forest reserves and carting largely quantities out of the country in 40 footer heavy duty trucks daily.

Locals joined in the destruction by crudely bringing down trees to burn charcoal in large scale for sell, an activity sparking chieftaincy violence especially in Domongo among parallel chiefs over who is legitimate to take royalties from the havoc.

Activities of the timber merchants which began during the construction of the Fufulso- Sawla road and the Bui Hydro Dam, have left behind bare and dry spaces on farmlands, damaged local vegetation and wildlife and ravaged expected benefits of the greening the north policy and programs under the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA).

The Yagbobwura Tutumba Bore Essah I made the combative declaration and also announced the kingdom’s resolve to deploy all possible means to fight the menace after reports that the illicit activities were seriously increasing the already despairing situation of scarce water resources in the area with huge population.

The hard hit communities including: Damongo, Busunu, Daboya, Mankarigo, Larabanga, Bawena, Kopoto, Kpumlumbo, Kaden, Yazori, Gulumpe and some parts of Mamprugu land are now battling with with scant yields,  severe water shortage and ‘communal warming.

In some communities in the North and West Gonja districts, there are reports of sun rays killing domestic animals and crops, and in Kusawgu and Tuluwe, residents are fleeing the havoc of the unsustaible logging practices.

Registrar of the Gonjaland Traditional Council speaking on behalf of the Yagbobwura told StarrNews the move to stop plundering and laundering of the scarce biological resources was to protect the natural and cultural heritage of the Gonjaland where residents are largely peasant farmers and lives by less than GH3 a day with extremely few livelihood options.

He said said the Yagbonwura had stressed the ban on the activities and culprits and their accomplices including chiefs and politicians caught will be dealt with as “thieves” by armed task force mandated to forcibly ensure stoppage of the acts.

According to him,  the task force will seize assets of loggers which will be destroyed without compensation, and have also been empowered to violently engage resisting operators.

“The Yagbobwura wants to secure the forest of the entire Gonjaland for the yet unborn children of Gonja.  He (Yagbonwura) has pronounced a ban on logging and commercial  charcoal burning. It is going to be in collaboration with DISSEC, other security and the youth. Everything would be seized and they are not going to compensate you in anyway” , the Gonja kingdom registrar explained.

This is the first time the traditional authority is publicly acting on the matter after more four years of its existence lessening residents suspicions that chiefs were prime beneficiary of the harmful activities.

Forming armed task forces and community volunteers has been part of self defense strategies of the Gonja people living in the region any time state security infrastructures fail them.

Residents of Bole have reportedly armed themselves with sophisticated weapons against armed robbers,  and Dollar power town and other illegal mining communities, chiefs have hired armed youth to fight suspected rebels terrorizing miners after several failure by state security to protect them.

By: Ghana/Ultimatefmonline.com/106.9FM/Eliasu Tanko