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13.10.2008 Regional News

Kumawu Citizens charge on Trad Council… Krontihene, Sanaahene cited in shady timber deals

Kumawu Citizens charge on Trad Council… Krontihene, Sanaahene cited in shady timber deals

SOCIAL responsibility agreements entered into by the Kumawu Traditional Council (KTC) and timber companies, for the benefit of communities in the traditional area, have come under the scrutiny of the Patriotic Citizens Association of Kumawu (PATRICAK), which is demanding accountability, in line with the terms of the agreement.

PATRICAK, which seeks transparency, probity and accountability in the environs of Kumawu, wants to know the amount of money due each beneficiary community under each contract, who received such payments, projects undertaken, supervisors of the projects, and the extent of the involvement of the Sekyere-Afram Plains District Assembly, the Kumawu Town Council and Unit Committees, in their planning and construction.

Messrs Royal Visage Gh. Ltd. (Takoradi), Oduro Anane Timbers (Kumawu), and Holly-Pat Enterprise (Kumasi), are by the said agreements required to provide “social facilities” and “amenities” to Temate, Besoro and Kumawu and Betom, while Messrs Holly-Pat Enterprise would additionally cater for the needs of Kumawu, Bodomase and Birimpotia, with Messrs Linwood Co. Ltd (Kumasi) assigned to Kumawu and Besoro, according to documents from the Kumawu Plantation Area office.

The position of the concerned citizens was strengthened by Social Responsibility Agreements involving companies and beneficiary areas, which have not detailed out any project for the benefit of the citizens of the beneficiary communities, thus undermining the full implementation of the provisions of Act 547 and L.I. 1649 - Timber Resources Management Regulation of 1998.

Last month PATRICAK questioned the terms of a purported Social Responsibility agreement, entered into by the Kumawu Traditional Council, on behalf of Kumawu, Temate and Besoro communities, and Royal Visage Ghana Limited.

The terms of agreement of second social responsibility agreement, between the KTC per its lawful attorney for the said three communities, and Messrs Oduro Anane Timbers, have also been questioned.

Under the agreement, signed on September 13, 2007, Royal Visage Ghana Limited, the contractor, is bound to provide social and economic amenities, services and benefits, through the Stool and the District Assembly, which witnessed the agreement by their agents.

The agreement indicates that the Chief Executive of the Forestry Commission (FC) had granted the contractor portions of compartments 163, 164, 165 and 173 in the Boumfobiri Wildlife Sanctuary, for which the communities would be given stated assistance.

Similarly, the Chief Executive of the FC had also granted compartments 171, 191 and Amobia Taungya series, in the Boumfum Forest Reserve, to Messrs Oduro Anane Timbers, for which the inhabitants of Kumawu, Temate and Besoro were to benefit from social and economic services, yet to be made known to the beneficiary communities.

The Area Plantation Manager at Kumawu, Mr. Benjamin A. Torgbor, has since forwarded the two model social responsibility agreement (Plantation Timber Utilization), duly singed by the relevant parties, to the Zonal Plantation Manager of the Forest Services Division of the FC in Kumasi, for the necessary action.

The Association is demanding that the signatories, on behalf of the KTC, the Krontihene, Nana Peprah Koduah IV and the Sanaahene, Nana Ofori Amponsah, who is also the treasurer of the KTC, and a signatory to the documents as a witness, to furnish the association with details of projects to be provided for the communities by the contractors, since the document was silent on such projects.

Referring specially to Regulation 14 (1) of the L.I. 1649, the Concerned Citizens said by the provisions of the Act 547, they expected roads, drains, schools, toilets, electricity poles among others, following the release of funds by the timber firms.

The Association suspected the Kumawu Krontinhene, Nana Peprah Kodua IV, of shady timber deals at the expense of beneficiary communities, and has therefore prevailed on the signatories of the agreements, to ensure that the timber companies honoured their contractual obligations, as contained in the said social responsibility agreements.

Their suspicion was heightened by the conviction that the Social Responsibility Fund Committee of the Kumawu Traditional Council, chaired by Nana Aduanahene and Nana Sarfo Agyekum II, had been ignored.

The Association also pointed to the seeming carelessness of assembly members and chiefs, in appending their signatures to the social responsibility agreements.

Meanwhile, Dr. James Charles London, and Nana Osei Bediako Firaw, Interim Chairman and Secretary respectively of PATRICAK, have requested Managing Directors of the various companies, to begin negotiations for the relevant public development “assistance,” under the auspices of the DCE and the Kumawu Town Council.

They threatened legal action, if detailed information regarding projects and funding are not provided, to enable various Town Development Committees to pursue and recover their rights under the said agreements, for full implementation of the provisions of the Act 547.