The Programme Coordinator of Jaksally Development Organization based in Bole in the Savannah Region Mr. Seidu Jeremiah has raised concerns over the failure of the Traditional Authorities in Gonjaland in their bid to the fight against commercial charcoal burning in the area.
He said the continuous disregard by the chiefs to enforce the bans which they themselves have put in place to stop charcoal burning in their respective traditional areas is worrying.
Jeremiah also said the inactions by the authorities in the area to crack the whip on people that are engaging in this illegal trade and the issuance of receipts as levies to these burners are promoting their work.
What has provoked the wrath of the ‘Environmental Crusader against Rosewood and Commercial Charcoal Burning’ is the felling of some fresh shea trees (economic trees) in various parts of Gonjaland which he said serves as a livelihood for many people especially women, children and vulnerable.
This is happening at the time when the nation is confronted with COVID 19 pandemic which has so far claimed 8 lives and affected 834.
Northern Region, Savannah, North East Region, Upper West, and Upper East Region are noted for charcoal production where millions of fresh trees especially economic ones are being swept for charcoal.
Lands have become unproductive as farmers complain of low harvest due to wanton destruction of the environment.
Charcoal production and indiscriminate tree felling have also caused climate change which is affecting rainfall in the northern parts of the country.
It is not far also for one to believe that the Cerebrospinal Meningitis (CSM) outbreak in Wa that has so far claimed 40 lives and affected 258 people is as a result of heat or harsh weather due to these destructions.
As of April 15, 2020, some 409 persons in the northern belt of the country had tested positive for Cerebrospinal Meningitis (CSM) out of which 40 have died and 258 of the reported cases coming from the Upper West region.
Charcoal burners prefer a shea tree because it is believing that its charcoal lasts longer.
Narrating to wesaygh media about what is happening in Gonjaland, Jeremiah questioned where are the revenues Cloff Palace, Boelwura’s Palace, Kuntunkure and Ngbaripe gates, Buipewura’s Palace, Yagbongwura’s Palace, Gonjaland Youth Association, Ghana Haulage Transports, and Drivers Association, West Gonja Municipal Assembly, Sawla Tuna Kalba District Assembly, and Forestry Commission takes from charcoal dealers comes from?
Justifying his claim, Jeremiah adduced evidence of receipts that were issued to these charcoal dealers purported to be coming from the various chief palaces, MMDAs, Forestry Commission, and Youth Associations.
He also produced pictures to show how fresh shea trees are been fell by charcoal burners in Tinga, Gbogdaah in Bole District and Jinlinkon in the Sawla Tun-Kalba District.
According to him, chiefs who claimed to be fighting these menace and have imposed various bans are the same people through their agents issuing receipts ranging from GHS 300.00 to GHS 500.00 per truckload.
The act he believes is rather promoting their illegalities.
“If our chiefs believe that levying the charcoal dealers is the way to go and stop them from carrying on their activities in Gonjaland then I will suggest that a fund be set up by the Gonja Traditional Council where monies collected can be lodge in and properly account for in a transparent manner so as to prevent certain individuals from taking these levies which don’t show accountability” he suggested.
“A Traditional council levy of about GHS 25, 000 could be placed on a truckload worth GHS 45,000 to deter them and also the money is put in a fund to re-afforest the vegetation. But with the receipts here and there where does the funs go to, which deforested land is being reforested, he asked”.
Jeremiah indicated that Jaksally as a development organization and passionate about the welfare of ordinary people living in rural areas will continue to expose the powers that are behind this whole destruction of vegetation and livelihoods.
He urged the government and the parliament of Ghana to ensure that there are strict compliance and enforcement of the rule of law as far as the natural resources of people are concerned.
Jeremiah stated that efforts should be directed at finding a sustainable way and how charcoal should be produced in Ghana without destroying the environment.
Jeremiah also urged the environmental organizations to team up and fight this barbaric act of tree felling in the Northern parts of the country in order to save the land.
Meanwhile, various bans from the Gonja Traditional Council ranging from 14th October 2005, 24th April 2017, 28th August 2018, and 22nd of May 2019 have all failed.
The last ban on commercial charcoal burning was on 14th September 2019 by the Bole Traditional Area which has also failed because charcoal production is still on the rise.
“All these efforts have failed because of poor leadership which failed to provide vision, mobilize resources and organize their people to bring out the best in them,” Jeremiah said.
Meanwhile some youth in February this year was wrongly arrested and jailed in Sawla for defending the forest and enforcing the traditional bans on charcoal burning.
This was under the orders of a traditional leader in the district who felt these youths were against his interest.