Samatex Timber and Plywood Company Limited is at risk of closing down activities following the invasion by illegal miners at the Tano Nimire Forest reserve.
In a press conference held on Monday, August 15, 2022, the National Chairman of the Timber Workers Union (TWU), Mr. Mark Ofori Asante, said it is more alarming that forest reserves and plantations managed by Samatex Timber and Plywood Company Limited are being destroyed for mining.
He stated that Samatex has been maintaining a 200 km long road network for over 25 years, which has been used by over 400,000 people. The timber firm has engaged in social responsibilities that include; road construction, road maintenance, shaping and gravelling, bridge maintenance, etc.
Also, the company has employed over 2500 persons and provided a training ground for engineers and skilled personnel through their fee-free NVTI-certified apprenticeship training programme.
This has helped a lot of less privileged youth from this part of the region to become mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, and auto engineers, among others.
According to Mr. Asante, the TWU cannot sit unconcerned for illegal mining activities in the Tano Nimire Forest reserve, compartment 161, Fure River reserve, and Nueng south reserve to continue and has further threatened to take the laws into their own hands and stage a fight against the security guards of Akonta Mining.
He said that the livelihoods of over 2500 and that of their dependents are under threat if the situation compels the Samatex company to downsize the staff or possibly shut down.
Read the full statement below:
TWU PRESS CONFERENCE ON ILLEGAL MINING ACTIVITIES IN FOREST RESERVES
The people of Ghana, the people of Samreboi and its environs, the people of Wassa Amenfi and the people of 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.
Much more alarming is the fact that, forest reserves and plantations managed by Samartex timber and plywood co. ltd. and other companies are being destroyed for mining purposes.
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.
One may ask, why various stakeholders (community members, royal stool holders, farmers, trade unions, the youth etc) will be so much concerned if the activities of a wood processing company are affected by mining?
For clarification, it should be noted that Samartex goes beyond its core activities, and has been a lifeline for the past 25 years for a population of over 500,000 Ghanaians cutting across various regions and districts, aside fulfilling all legally required commitments and payments of its operations:
– The company maintains over 200km road network, which is plied by a population of over 400,000 for the past 25 years. Activities include road construction, road maintenance, shaping and gravelling, bridge maintenance etc.
After cocoa roads construction was suspended, the company has been maintaining these very roads for about 5 years.
This comes at an annual cost of over 1million Ghana cedis. Without these works carried out on our roads, homes will be inaccessible, farms will be inaccessible, medical care will be inaccessible.
– The company provides employment for over 2,500 persons.
– The company is a training ground for engineers and skilled personnel through their fee-free NVTI certified apprenticeship training programme.
This has helped a lot of less privileged youth from this part of the region become mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, auto-engineers, lathe turners etc.
– The company also runs a non-fee paying school for children of community members and workers (nursery, kg, primary and JHS),
– The company has a hospital which caters for about 4000 patients monthly coming from over 50 communities within the two regions (Western and Western North)
– It must be noted that there is no Ghana water company supply line in Samreboi, and 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.
– Samartex has prioritized the regeneration of natural resource, by establishing and managing various plantations across the country, with timber seedlings nurseries. Samartex is one of the few surviving wood processing industries in the country and has often been used and still being visited by most educational institutions, researchers, exchange students and others in the business as case study for best practices and sustainability.
– With all these interventions, the company owns a football club in the Ghana premier league, which serves as a source of entertainment and talent development in this part of the region and nationally.
With all these above mentioned facts, we T.W.U as stakeholders became very concerned when information about mining in forest reserves came out, specifically concessions under Samartex Tano Nimre
Forest reserve, compartment 161, Fure River Reserve and Nueng South reserve is suffering serious mining encroachment.
Discussions with management of the company point to the fact that, once the resource is being destroyed, the company is sitting on a time bomb and fear the worst.
Immediate action would include cutting down extra expense, by cutting down overhead costs like the hospital, the football club, public road maintenance etc., even worse downsizing the workforce by laying-off employees.
The people of Ghana, Wassa and Aowin cannot sit unconcerned for these unimaginable steps to be taken, and call on the government of Ghana (the Presidency), to intervene and take immediate action.
Even from our layman point of view, and understanding, we know that it is illegal to mine in forest reserves and water bodies. We will not allow selfish interest, destroy our natural resource, and all the direct and indirect benefits we gain from it.
The General Secretary of TWU, being a member of Green Ghana Project, who also doubles as FSC Global Board Member representing the social south, which advocates for protection and sustainability of the forest, cannot sit unconcerned for this to go on. Samartex cannot be a certified company if such activity is not halted with immediate effect.
“GOLD IS A LUXURY. TREES ARE NECESSITIES. MAN CAN LIVE AND THRIVE WITHOUT GOLD, BUT CANNOT SURVIVE WITHOUT TREES”