Members of the Timber Traders under auspices of the Timber Traders Organisation, Ondo State chapter, on Monday appealed to the state government to lift the ban on the closure of the state’s forest in order not to add to the economic woes being experienced by the timber traders.
The timber traders who made this appeal after their meeting in Akure, Ondo State capital, said the call became imperative to save their business and to save its members from hunger.
The traders who frowned over the abruptly closure of the forest stated that over 90 percent of the Internally Generated Revenue in the state are garnered from them, saying the organisation contributed positively to the economic development of the state.
The state chairman of the union, Samuel Olukayode, condemned the action of the state government saying that the traders were caught unaware over the closure of the forest reserves.
According to him, most of the timber traders obtained loan from banks to carry out their lawful business and said the closure has affected their business negatively in the last two weeks while the closure will not affect the interest n their loan.
He wondered why the government decided to close both the free zone and the reserved area saying members of the association obtain permit from the government and are operating legally.
Olukayode said efforts are on going by the leadership of the timber traders to meet with the State government and other stakeholders to resolve the issue and assured that the issue will be resolved before the end of the week.
He called on the member of the union to maintain peace and appealed to the state government to lift the ban on the forest saying “we will be ready to assist the government and collaborate with forest officials to sensitise thr forest. We are law abiding people and will not involve in any illegal business.
Also speaking, the chairman of the union in Akure South, Kunle Omotosho, also called on the state governor. Mr Rotimi Akeredolu to attend to their plight.
He said, “the forest was closed across the state because of the atrocity of illegal encroachers but we operate legally and remit to the coffers of the state government as at when due.
“We want to plead to the government to listen to our appeal and save us from the present situation, we are losing money day in day out while the present economy is biting harder
“Some encroachers have ruined the business. Our forest had been taken over by these people from other states. They are in the forest now working without any hindrance while some government officials are working hand in hand with them.”
The state government ordered the closure of the government reserved forest and the free zone barely 24 hours after the inauguration of the new governor in the state.