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07.01.2005 Crime & Punishment

Forestry monitoring team impound two trucks

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Akim Oda, Jan. 7, GNA - A joint-operation by the Akim Oda District and the Eastern Regional Forestry Monitoring Teams has led to the arrest of two trucks loaded with more than illegal 500 chainsaw lumber worth millions of cedis.

The Akim Oda District Forestry Manager, Mr Thomas Okyere, told the Ghana News Agency that the two trucks were arrested at Akim Abenase on December 24, coming from Amantia but the actual forest where the illegal operation took place was yet to be located.

He said on seeing the Team, the owners of the lumbers managed to escape but the drivers were arrested and the vehicles and the lumber conveyed to Akim Oda.

Mr Okyere said efforts were being made to apprehend the culprits, adding that if they failed to show up, the truck owners would be prosecuted and the lumber sold and the proceeds paid into government chest.

In a related development, Mr Okyere expressed concern about the illegal activities by some chainsaw operators from Agona Swedru who, he said, have besieged the Oboyow forest reserve and causing a extensive damage to it.

He said in recent joint operations by the monitoring team, it was able to flush the smugglers out and arrested two of them in process and they would soon be prosecuted.

The District Forestry Manager said two chainsaw machines and a quantity of sawn lumber were confiscated, adding that some of the boards were yet to be evacuated from the forest reserve.

Mr. Okyere regretted that a newly-constructed road from Moforam, through Apinto to Badukrom linking the Central Region with the Oboyo Forest Reserve was facilitating the activities of the illegal chainsaw operators.

He said the Forestry Commission was negotiating with the Birim South District Assembly to erect a police barrier in the area to help curb the activities of "these nation wreckes".

Mr Okyere appealed to the Assembly and Unit Committee Members, chiefs as well as opinion leaders in those communities to be vigilant and tip-off the Monitoring Team, which would lead to the arrest of the smugglers.

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