About 43 trucks of illegal lumber valued at GH₵350,000 have been impounded by the Forestry Commission at Goaso in the Ahafo Region.
A special National Taskforce co-named Operation Halt made up of 15 military men constituted by the Forestry Commission impounded 23 trucks loaded with illegal lumber on the road whilst 20 other trucks were retrieved from unregistered sawmills dotted around the Goaso enclave in the Ahafo Region.
The ongoing clampdown exercise by Operation Halt team was intended to bring sanity to the forest industry, especially the forest reserves which are being destroyed by illegal loggers in the Goaso forest districts.
Briefing the media after a ten-day exercise here in Sunyani yesterday, Mr George Osei, National Coordinator of the taskforce said the arrest was made possible upon a tip-off.
Mr Osei explained that the special taskforce was called in due to the extent of damage being done to the forest reserves by illegal loggers coupled with the fact that their men on the ground were overwhelmed by the situation.
He said while the confiscated lumbers would be auctioned with the money deposited to state coffers, lawyers of the Forestry Commission are also liaising with the police to prosecute the arrested persons.
Mr Osei noted that the operation which is ongoing started in the Western Region and now in Ahafo, but would not disclose their next location for security reasons.
The Sunyani Area Manager of the Timber Industry Development Division of Forestry Commission, Abban Kofi Bonsu said the exercise by the national taskforce has come handy to bring the situation under control.
He said more arrests would be done by the taskforce, noting that “about 90 per cent of sawmills in the area are unregistered, so their activities are illegal.”
FROM DANIEL DZIRTASAH, SUNYANI