The Deputy Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Benito Owusu Bio has disclosed that government through the Ministry will soon set up a regional office for the Minerals Commission in Sefwi Wiawso to address illegal activities in the region.
According to him, he is aware that the office in Bibiani is operational. However due to the illegalities in the regional capital, it is necessary for another office to be established to deal more decisively with the menace.
The Deputy Minister said this when he met some members of the Regional Security Council (REGSEC) at Sefwi Wiawso in the Western North Region on Thursday, January 13, 2022.
Mr. Owusu-Bio said, his visit follows an earlier visit by the sector minister, Samuel Abu Jinapor, where he requested the local folks to collate their needs in order for his outfit to ascertain their challenges, especially with respect to the forest reserves.
“We have come to the RCC because we know you are in charge of administration, security and all others that happens in the region. Our Minister has also been here but we are here today specifically because of the forest reserves”, Mr. Owusu-Bio said.
He added that he is aware of some illegal activities on going in some forest reserves in the region and therefore came to verify the claims and see how best the Ministry can help curb the menace.
Mr. Benito Owusu-Bio assured REGSEC that his outfit will liaise with the Omanhene of Sefwi Wiawso to find best ways to resolve the issues raised.
In his address, he also assured the REGSEC that he will prompt his colleague Deputy Minister in charge of Mines to start a Community Mining Scheme in the area to help the situation by giving illegal loggers and miners an alternative source of livelihood.
Nana Bumagama II, the Omanhene of Sefwi Wiawso who was also present at the meeting thanked the Deputy Minister for his assurance of support and promised to donate a full house to accommodate the new Minerals Commission Office as and when it is established.
The Chief Director of the Regional Coordinating Council (RCC) who received the Deputy Minister and his entourage on behalf of the Regional Minister said, the REGSEC have had series of meetings to review their security operations because illegal activities in the reserves are becoming increasingly dangerous, posing threats to workers of the Forestry Commission.
He intimated that “these illegal loggers operate in many of the reserves, even the ones that share boarders with Ahafo Region. They mostly operate during the night and threaten the lives of the Forestry officers when they are seen”.
The Chief Director also added that, another issue that needs immediate attention is the reclamation of mined out areas in the region.
He said it has become a scare to people living in communities with such pits. In his submissions, he indicated that they have been trying to assist the efforts of the Commission in the area.
According to him, they had plans of organising a police and military joint operations in the reserves but due to finance and logistical constraints, they haven’t been able to execute this plan.
The Director was however quick to admit that the Ministry has already requested for a budget from the REGSEC to help in that regard and therefore they believe that there will be some action soon.