THIS week forestry regulatory body, Solomon Forest Association (SFA) issued a veiled warning that if the Government does not act in doing something about rogue logging companies, it would wind up.
Such drastic action would leave the door wide open for fly-by-night loggers to come and go and to practice their antics freely.
This would leave the door wide open and the potential for alleged corruption and its practitioners to dig their heels even deeper cannot be ruled out.
It is a frightening scenario.
The consequences would be catastrophic for government coffers. Revenue would plummet and there is no doubt politics would take over.
We can then forget about observing the rule of law in this country when it comes to logging operations.
Everyone will have a level playing field then. The order of the day will then be that what the erring loggers give out determines what they get in return for their “investment”.
Here’s part of what SFA said in an interview earlier this week, urging the Government to act.
“The SFA is ready to deregister any of its member(s) found to be breaking the law here. But I want to stress that the Association alone cannot do this,” an SFA spokesman said on Monday.
The spokesman said the SFA is aware that some of its members were the culprits but added that without the Government’s help, the situation would only get worse.
“The Government must act. The police must act. The Commissioner of Forest must act. We simply cannot sit here and allow people to disregard the law, using SFA as a cover for their illegal activities,” the spokesman said.
“Competent authorities must now formalise a Moratorium on new logging companies so that a measure of control is introduced in the industry. Without that, there is no hope,” the spokesman said.
He said the SFA is of the understanding that Cabinet had already endorsed the Moratorium.
“That was about a year ago. It now appears competent authorities have done nothing since, allowing corrupt logging operations to continue unabated, demonstrating as we have seen in this case, a complete disregard for the law of the land,
“I must warn that unless the Government takes immediate and urgent steps to address this problem in the forestry industry, we will dissolve the SFA so that everyone has a level playing field when it comes to corruption in this country,” he said.
Sadly, while a body like the SFA is willing to cooperate with authorities in putting together control measures on logging operations, it seems those vested with the power to rein in the culprits are less inclined to do so.
Such a situation raises many questions. Is it, for example, there are others pulling the strings?
Are there other powers lurking behind in the shadows – powers that wields the real power in the forestry industry?
Alarmingly, the Attorney General’s Chambers has denied any knowledge of the Moratorium in Thursday’s Solomon Star newspaper.
The Moratorium was said to have been endorsed by Cabinet and was waiting to be gazetted.
But that was a year or so ago. So where is it?
Has it been archived, hijacked or kept in abeyance for a later time?
If so, why? Such an important document legitimising cooperation between industry and Government to fight corporate thieving of the nation’s timber resources should have been dealt with in no time at all.
It is estimated that delaying the gazetting of the Moratorium has allowed in excess of 20 new logging companies to come in.
SFA warned that if nothing is done about this, the nation’s timber resources would be wiped out in unregulated operations in no time at all.
Is that what we want – for our kinds?
By Alfred Sasako
Urgent action is needed