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29.07.2004 Regional News

High Court places injunction on Forestry Commission

By GNA

Kumasi, July 29, GNA- A Kumasi High Court on Wednesday granted a 14-day interim injunction on the Forestry Commission and restricted the Commission from bidding for concessions on July 30, 2004.

The application for injunction, filed by Frank Adu-Sarkodie Timbers Limited also prohibited the agents of the Forestry Commission, workers and privies from carrying out the intended bidding.

In a statement of claim and an accompanying affidavit filed on behalf of the plaintiff by his counsel Kwadwo Owusu Sekyere, said on October 1, 1973, the company was given a timber concession in the Bandai Hills forest by the Agogo Traditional Council, which later received the concurrence and approval of the Forestry Commission.

The plaintiff said it operated in the said concession until the Forestry Commission placed an embargo on its operations in the said forest on what was termed as "being put under convalescence".

It said when the company ceased operating in the forest, it received information that other timber companies were operating in the said forest and as a result it detailed its hunter to go and verify. The hunter the statement said, later came and confirmed that about three or four timber firms were working in the Bandai Hills forest concession.

The plaintiff said with this information, it petitioned the Forestry Commission to seek clarification as to why the companies he named as Maxwell Owusu Sawmill, Kumih Sawmill, Africana Sawmill and Baba Gariba Timbers were operating in the supposed convalescence forest, while he was footing the land rent.

Between 1994 and 1997, the plaintiff said, it paid 7.5 million cedis as land rent, while other timber firms were permitted to fell trees in the forest.

The plaintiff said on September 11, 2003, the Forest Services Division (FSD) of the Commission by a letter replying to the company's petition for the replacement of its only concession in the Bandai Hills forest reserve, acknowledged the company's claim and that the Division had no objection to granting the company its request for replacement. The plaintiff said that on June 2, 2004, the company received a letter from the Forestry Commission requesting it (company) to identify an unencumbered off-reserved area for the granting of a savaging permit for a five-year term.

The company, however, contended that since the Forestry Commission had the manpower and personnel well equipped and know where such unencumbered off-reserved areas were, and also the fact that it was their ill-planned action that brought about its losses, it was the duty of the Commission to find it a replacement.

The plaintiff said it was its right that the Forestry Commission be held responsible and duty bound to replace the forest, which was taken away from the company in 1994.

The company was therefore praying the court to order the Forestry Commission to replace its concession, which was ceased from it and also compensate it for the loss it incurred.

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