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Crime & Punishment of Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Source: GNA

Tumu Police impounds two trucks loaded with suspected rosewood

The Tumu Municipal Police has busted two trucks suspected of carrying large quantities of rosewood lumber despite government’s ban placed on cutting and conveyance of the wood.

It is believed to be highly demanded by Chinese nationals in the country. The cargo trucks caught transporting the commercial wood bore the registration numbers; AS 722C and AS 1142 Q and were spotted in Wuru about 50kilometres from the Sissala East Municipal capital, Tumu.

The arrest comes barely a week after the Sissala East Municipal Chief Executive Karim Karim Nanyua expressed worry about too many reports regarding felling and conveyance of rosewood from the land and directed the security agencies to arrest any suspected dealer.

Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Stephen Abanga who confirmed the seizure to the Ghana News Agency said the arrest was effected in Wuru upon a tip-off by locals who were worried about influx of Chinese felling of the trees and devastating the environment in the geographical enclave.

“There were three vehicles,” DSP Abanga said: “Two for the Chinese, but the other one is for one Morino Charles who we can’t locate now. The driver is said to be in Accra”.

The Police however said the keys to the vehicle without its driver were confiscated from the driver’s mate and placed in their [police] custody pending further investigations.

A Chinese national by name Zuo Min claimed ownership of the wood, but denied it was rosewood and that it was rather Papao, which he bought from Wuru. DSP Abanga said Mr Zuo was sent to Wa, the Upper West Regional capital, for further interrogation as the Municipal Police was directed by the Regional Commander.

The Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources placed a ban on rosewood cutting and conveyance on 13th March 2019 in a directive headlined: “Suspension of salvaging, conveyance and export of rosewood”. But the ban reported by environmental campaigners is being flouted with impunity as several truckloads of rosewood are spotted carting away from the region.

Sources close to the security agencies told the GNA that three trucks fully loaded with rosewood skipped police checkpoints last Thursday after the drivers allegedly showed paid official receipts (bearing GHS10,000.00 per container) from the Forestry Commission.

Another source said two trucks carrying suspected rosewood has also been packed near the controller GOIL fuel station in Wa, apparently awaiting clearance from authorities.

A Rosewood tree can sell for as much as $55 per board foot prompting Chinese tree investors to look for new geographic areas in Ghana, after reportedly causing extinction of Madagascar Rosewood from years of illegal logging and political upheavals.

A 2013 census revealed that 90 percent of the country’s virgin Rosewood forest was harvested.

Demand from China and high prices for the rosewood had driven this tree to the edge.

Another tree, Papao, identified by lumber dealers was being harvested vigorously after almost eliminating rosewood in the region by the Chinese nationals and their local accomplices, exposing the vegetation cover to severe degradation.

The Community Development Alliance, a local Non-Governmental Organisation, expressed worry about wanton destruction of the northern ecological zone. It said more than one million rosewoods were cut away from the Upper West region within seven years, contributing to rising temperature levels there.