Government through the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources has inaugurated a seven-member committee to probe allegations of rosewood smuggling in Ghana.
This follows the US-based Environmental Investigations Agency’s (EIA) publication that alleged that rosewood smuggling is rampant in the country despite a ban.
The committee will be headed by the Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural resources, Benito Owusu-Bio.
Speaking at the inauguration, sector minister, Kweku Asomah Cheremeh said the committee members had five weeks to investigate the issue and report their findings.
“The specific tasks for the committee are to investigate allegations of corruption as reported in the publication by EIA. Examine all anomalies in respect of rosewood salvage permit, transportation and export trade, Investigate if rosewood is still being traded in spite of the ban I imposed in March 2019. Make the necessary recommendations for appropriate actions to be taken.”
“The committee is expected to carry out these tasks and report to the Minister within five weeks from today. In carrying out these tasks, you will be expected to speak to the relevant stakeholders within the rosewood value chain to identify the issues and challenges that exist.”
Government has in the past been criticized for its seeming lack of seriousness towards the fight against the illegal felling of rosewood in the country.
Chinese fugitive, Helena Huang was arrested with four containers of rosewood she was planning to smuggle out of the country.
She has subsequently been deported and no formal charges were pressed against her.
One of the loud voices who have expressed his disappointment with the enforcement of the ban on the felling of Rosewood is Member of Parliament for the Builsa South Constituency in the Upper East Region, Dr. Clement Apaak who believes the ban is ‘non-existent’ citing the ongoing illegal exports of rosewood despite the ban.
Dr. Apaak, recently petitioned the Special Prosecutor to investigate the report on alleged illegal felling of Rosewood in Ghana.
“I have petitioned the Office of the Special Prosecutor to investigate the allegations of bribery that has allowed the illegal rosewood business to thrive and prosecute those involved. I have submitted the petition to the Office of the Special Prosecutor. In the petition, I provided him details by the EIA. I have reached out to the EIA in the US, and they have indicated their readiness to provide the Office of the Special Prosecutor with more details on this so that he can investigate and prosecute anyone including party and government officials behind this illegal trade,” he said.
In June this year research conducted by the Ghana Wildlife Society (GWS) in collaboration with Kalakpa Youth Club and the Abutia Development Union found that 200 containers of rosewood were smuggled from the Kalakpa Resource Reserve in Abutia, in the Volta Region illegality.