The National Chairman of Timber Workers Union (TWU), Mr Mark Ofori Asante, has said Samatex Timber and Plywood Company Limited is on the brink of collapse due to the invasion and destruction of Tano Nimire Forest by illegal miners, popularly known as ‘galamseyers’.
He said the forest reserves and plantation managed by Samatex Timber and Plywood Company Limited and other companies were being destroyed for mining.
Mr Asante at a news conference on Monday, at Samreboi, noted, “The people of Samreboi, Wassa Amenfi and Aowin have become very much concerned about mining activities, which have now uncontrollably gone beyond water bodies, river banks, cocoa farms and now into forest reserves.”
He said “As stakeholders, we must all come together to combat this menace orchestrated by a few individuals with selfish interest, claiming to have legal permit to mine in forest reserves.”
Mr Asante called on community members, chiefs, farmers, trade unions and the youth to collaborate efforts and deal with illegal mining.
He said the company had maintained over 200km roads network serving for the past 25 years.
“After cocoa roads construction were suspended, the company has been maintaining these roads for about five years. This comes at an annual cost of over GH¢1million. Without these works carried out on our roads, homes, farms, medical care will be inaccessible,” Mr Asante said.
He stated that Samatex was a training ground for engineers and skilled personnel through the fee-free NVTI certified apprenticeship training programmes.
Mr Asante said “The company also runs a non-fee paying school for children of community members and workers (nursery, kg, primary and JHS). It also has a hospital, which caters for about 4,000 patients monthly coming from over 50 communities within the Western and Western North Regions.
He said “There is no Ghana Water Company supply pipe line in Samreboi, and, therefore, the provision of water to most parts of the community is the sole responsibility of the company – 3600m3, and an annual treatment cost of over GH₵ 400,000.
“However, illegal mining activities in the Tano River has tripled the cost of treatment of water and extra expenditure in sinking bore holes,” Mr Asante said.
He said Samartex had prioritised the regeneration of natural resource by establishing and managing timber plantations across the country.
FROM CLEMENT ADZEI BOYE, TAKORADI