The Deputy Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, in charge of Lands and Forestry, Benito Owusu-Bio has commended highly the staff of the Sefwi Wiawso Forestry Commission for working tirelessly even under tough conditions to keep under control the issue of illegalities in the district.
He said this during a staff durbar with the Sefwi Wiawso Forestry Commission on the sidelines of his fact-finding trip to some forest reserves in Sefwi Wiawso district of the Western North Region on Thursday, 13th January, 2022.
Mr Owusu-Bio said "I am highly impressed with the work that you have done here so far especially under such challenging conditions"
He added that witnessing the situation for himself has made him appreciate the seriousness of it and as a matter of urgency he will report to the sector Minister and come back with strict actions to curb the situation.
The Deputy Minister was, however, worried about how the operators are able to transport wood out of the region, saying that if there are any officers helping these operators, investigations will be conducted to expose them.
He, therefore, charged them to be patriotic, urging them to work even harder to check the roads and find ways to stop their means of transportation immediately.
Touching on the staff welfare issues, he stated that they are aware of all their concerns and the sector Minister who paid an earlier visit to the region has already started putting measures in place to ensure that their concerns are attended to.
"We have actually already started working on your welfare issues. Sector Minister has been here and you will hear very good news in the coming months."
He also employed the opportunity to remind the staff of the Ministry’s plans to plant 20 million trees during the 2022 Green Ghana exercise.
As the main stakeholders of this exercise, Mr Owusu-Bio urged the staff of the Commission to prepare their minds and be in readiness to work harder than they did last year.
"As the main stakeholders of Green Ghana, we are here to whip up your support and commitment towards the exercise this year. We will have to deliver and we will need your support to make this happen."
For his part, the Chairman of the Forestry Commission Board, Tetrete Okuamoah Sekyim II, who also doubles as the Paramount Chief of the Wassa Amenfi Traditional Area, also praised the Sefwi Wiawso Forestry officials, for a job well done so far.
The Paramount chief said he is saddened by the situation on the grounds. He stated that "it is heartbreaking to see what is happening in the corridors of the region and as a matter of urgency, we must combat it".
He added that the Board will immediately set up a meeting and strategize workable ways to resolve the issue of illegalities before they get out of hand.
Tetrete Okuamoah assured the staff that upon seeing the dangerous circumstances in which they work, he is going to ensure that their safety is always a priority to make officials feel safe as they deliver on their mandate.
Mr. John Allotey, the Chief Executive Officer of the Forestry Commission in his address, outlined details of plans put in place by the commission with regards to staff welfare and safety.
He said they are putting together measures to train more guards on the usage of some equipment and weapons to improve on their work both on the field and to enhance the capacity of the officers, disclosing that they have procured some laptops, desktops and about 1000 weapons which will soon be realised to beef up their work.