Five containers of rosewood meant for export have been impounded at the Tema Port.
The containers were impounded on 17th June 2021 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 some of 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.
Joy News investigations have repeatedly revealed 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.
“How can Ghana be greened when officials and institutions are directly or indirectly through their complicity de-greening Ghana?
“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 Generals report on MDAs for the year ending December 2017.
“As would be expected, I sort permission from the Chairman of the committee to ask the Minister why after five years of a reinforced ban on the harvesting, transportation and export of rosewood continues.
“Apparently, on the same day, as a trusted source later alerted me, 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,” he wrote.
Dr Apaak is alleging there is an attempt by influential people in society to cover up. “My sources tell me the manger of the terminal and the exporter tried to prevent Ghana Energy Commission officials from opening the containers by calling ‘big men’ (corrupt, evil nation wrecker in my opinion). 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.
“Simply put, the ban on illegal harvesting, transportation and export of rosewood remains a hoax. The same 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,” Dr Apaak said.
“How can we claim to be greening Ghana when public, government officials and institutions are busy de-greening Ghana for personal gains?” he quizzed.
“In the meantime, I’m following the development closely. As well, I’ve filed a number of questions to the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources on the illegal harvesting, transportation and export of rosewood,” he concluded.
Joy News understands 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.