By Adekola Afolabi
The Ondo State House of Assembly has promised to partner the management of the West Africa Forest Plantation hinted Onipetesi in Odigbo Local Government Area of the state to check activities of encroachers and other challenges facing the management of the Afforestation projects.
The Chairman, Ondo State House of Assembly Committee on Natural Resources, Hon. Akinyele Fasogbon, made the promise during the committee’s familiarisation visit to the Managing Director, West Africa Forest Plantation Limited Mr. Weluche Ume and other officials of the company at Onipetesi.
Ume had listed some of the challenges facing the company in charge of the projects to accessibility, encroachment, lack of clear demarcation among other issues, and solicited the assistance of the Assembly to address the situation to ensure effective takeover of the projects by the company.
Fasogbon said anybody caught engaging in encroachment would be made to face the full weight of the law, just as he assured the company of regular interface to checkmate encroachment and address other challenges confronting the company.
The committee Chairman particularly charged the company to ensure people in the host communities are employed to reduce youth unemployment in the area.
This, he added, would make the people have access to dividends of democracy in line with the agenda of the Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu led administration in the state.
Fasogbon urged the management of the West Africa Forest Plantation Limited to justify the confidence the Governor reposed in the company.
He emphasised the need for the company to give the indigenes of the state and the host communities sense of belonging while the company should also ensure harmonious and peaceful working relationship with the host communities in the interest of peace and development.
Fasogbon also informed the Managing Director to fastrack the grading of access road in the Afforestation Projects to ensure easy access and ease the suffering of the people in the host communities.
Other members of the committee on the visit include, Hon. (Dr) Suleiman Kaseem and Rt. Hon. Malachi Coker.
Earlier while receiving the committee, the Managing Director, West Africa Forest Plantation Limited, Mr. Weluche Ume disclosed that the company has commenced limited irrigation in the ongoing dry season to sustain already planted trees in the projects.
He noted that nursery would start by January next year at various designated points while tree planting proper would commence by May.
He hinted that by the time the planting season begins between 2018 and 2019, hundreds of indigenes of the state would be employed directly and indirectly to work on the 250 hectares of the projects.
He stressed that the company is more particular about securing the projects as the line of control is not clearly demarcated which has led to problems of encroachment and other illegalities in the projects.
He, called on the committee to assist in addressing the challenges facing the company to ensure effective takeover.