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28.09.2004 Regional News

Tension in New Tafo over felling of timber

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Koforidua, Sept. 28, GNA - An uneasy calm reigned at Akim Old Tafo in the East Akim District, following a violent clash between the local youth and workers of the Metro Star Company, last Friday over the felling of the Ceiba (Onyina) tree in a concession granted to the company in the area by the Forestry Commission.

As a result of the clash, the Eastern Regional Police Command had had to dispatch police reinforcement to the town following reports that a group of rampaging youths were threatening to attack the police after the arrest of two of their colleagues, who attacked workers of the company.

Briefing the GNA at Koforidua on Monday, the Eastern Regional Police Commander, Mr Vincent K. Dzakpata said reports reached the Command that some workers of the company were attacked, while felling the timber and some of them were paraded naked through the town on the false allegation that they were armed robbers or illegal chain-saw operators.

According to him, the two youths who were arrested, had been prosecuted at Koforidua Magistrate's Court and granted bail. Mr Dzakpata said the manager of the company had earlier informed the chiefs and people that it was awarded the concession by the Forestry Commission, covering a number of communities in the New Juaben Municipality and the East Akim District.

According to him, the company had notified the East Akim District Assembly, while it had paid the traditional authorities 40 million cedis as initial royalty, adding, the company was prepared to pay compensation to any farmer whose crops were destroyed at the officially approved cost.

On their part, a spokesman of the aggrieved farmers, however, told the GNA at Old Tafo that, they were against the award of the concession, since the concession covered their cocoa farms, which were being sprayed.

He described the compensation to be paid for destroyed cocoa trees as "too meager" and pleaded that, since the government's high-tech programme was giving them high yield, the felling of the timber on their farms be suspended to enable them harvest their crops till next February.

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