The Ondo State Government on Thursday took steps to checkmate illegal exploitation of its forest resources by clamping down on all illegal timber operators.
To this end, Tunde Atere, the State Commissioner for Natural Resources, visited some saw-mills in Akure North and Ose local government areas of the state to monitor the activities of forest exploitation.
At Ifon in Ose Local Government, the commissioner said that huge sums of money were being lost through the activities of illegal timber operators.
He, however, assured the public that all loopholes would be blocked. “Our assessment has shown that some operators are hell-bent in perpetrating illegality.
“Huge revenues have been lost to the illegal timber activities. If these monies had come into government pocket, government would have used them to improve the welfare of the citizenry,” Atere said.
He said the illegal forest exploitation was an economic sabotage which hindered the flow of development to the society.
At Ogbese, a timber truck was impounded at Yomi Lapite Saw-mill, for allegedly engaging in sharp practice which “did not correspond to basic forestry laws”.
Similarly, Gabriel Saw-mill and Eje Jesu Saw-mill at Elegbeka, in Akure North Local Government, were visited but the workers ran away on sighting the commissioner’s entourage.
The commissioner, thereafter, ordered the closure of the saw-mil and directed the owners to report at the ministry in Akure.
Atere advised the timber stakeholders and citizens to collaborate with government to put an end to illegality so that more revenues could be generated.
Okiki Ade, the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, advised residents to give useful information that could help to curb the illegal activities in government forests.
“We are not restricting anybody from doing legitimate business. But we are saying that they should pay to the state government, what is due to it.
“So we are appealing to the people to support us because we are here to serve their interest and not ours,” the commissioner said.