The Upper West Regional Minister, Dr. Hafiz Bin Salih, has warned chiefs in the Wa West district not to come to him for help when people are arrested for felling trees in the area. According to him, anyone found culpable in the harvesting of trees in the Upper West region shall be made to face the full rigours of the law.
Addressing the Dorimon-naa and the Wechiau-naa during a visit to the district, Dr. Bin Salih described as very painful the activities of wood harvesters in the region. He said it saddens his heart in seeing how the environment is being depleted through the cutting of trees which is aided by chiefs and people of the area.
Hon Hafiz thus disclosed his intention to deal with people, including the chiefs, who are into or aiding the illegal business. “Anyone, whether tall or short; it doesn’t matter your social standing, if you are caught cutting trees, you will be dealt with without fear or favour. And let no one come to me in the name of I am a son or a brother to beg for mercy for such unscrupulous persons. If you do, I will expose you.” He stated.
The Minister charged the chiefs to see the protection of the environment as a major responsibility. He urged them to desist from allowing people to go into their bushes to fell trees as that will present untold hardships to the people in the not-too-distant future. To this end, Dr Bin Salih said he has directed the local authorities of the Forestry Commission not to issue permit for people to salvage woods in the bush, adding that “no one is allowed to cut or salvage a tree without my express permission”.
The Wa West district, in recent times, is reported to be the leading district in the region with cases of indiscriminate felling of trees. The trees being harvested include economic trees such as shea, rosewood and dawadawa. Calls by residents and civil society organisations on the chiefs, political leaders and the youth to help in stopping the menace have so far proved futile as the business continues to gain grounds in the Wa West district.
The minister’s visit is regarded as a positive step with others calling for him to form a taskforce to help stop the menace and protect the environment. He was accompanied by the District Chief Executive of Wa West and members of the Regional Security Council.