General News of 2014-07-25

More gargantuan demo to hit gov’t if…

The country yesterday witnessed an unprecedented outpour of anger against economic hardships when the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and other pressure groups organized one of the biggest demonstrations Ghana has ever seen to seize major streets across the nation.

The demonstrators poured their anger against the Employment and Labour Relations Minister, Haruna Iddrisu, who was present to receive the petition on behalf of government by hooting and describing him and other government appointees as “thieves and criminals.”

The protest started in Accra at the Obra Spot around 7:00 am at the Kwame Nkrumah circle through Farisco roundabout, TUC, Novotel, Accra Polytechnic and ministries to the Arts centre and finally the Black Star square.

The protestors who were clad in red and black were holding placards with inscriptions such as; “Do not kill us with your indecision,” “Don’t sell GNPA for pittance,” “save the dignity of workers,” and “President Mahama please do something before we all die.”

Others were “our economy is now on life support,” “bomb president where the oil money dey?” “stop corruption and we will be well and “politicians get off our back.”

The demonstrators threatened to march to the Asomdwe Park after police personnel tried to stop them from moving to the Black Star Square where a memorial service was being held in honour of the late President, Prof. John Atta Mills, the king of peace.

The over ten thousand protestors hit the streets of Accra and other regional capitals to register their displeasure over consistent rising cost of living in the country.

The demonstrators said the state in formulating economic policies must consider their social implications to ensure that they are socially sensitive to mitigate the suffering of the poor, underemployed and unemployed including the youth and other vulnerable groups in the society.

They said government has a duty to ensure that its economic policies do not compromise the wellbeing of Ghanaians.

Some organized labour unions who participated in the demonstration were; Public utility workers of TUC, MUSIGA, Ghana Medical Association, Ghana Meteorological Agency, Ghana Private Road Transport Union and NAGRAT.

The rest were Ghana Hairdressers and Beauticians Association, GNPA, Bank of Ghana, Tema Port, Ghanaian Times and Daily Graphic.

Reading the petition to the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations at the Black Star Square, the General Secretary of the TUC, Kofi Asamoah said the reason behind the demonstration was to alert government to heed to the concerns as far as the economic challenges in the country are concerned.

Mr. Asamoah noted that government has consistently increased utility tariffs, prices of petroleum products and implemented a number of measures and policies without recourse to their social impact on the people.

“In these difficult economic and social times, workers have nobody to turn to but government. Indeed government must take responsibilities and act appropriately.”

Mr. Asamoah indicated that the economic situation has moved from bad to worse and that it is deteriorating day by day.

“There seems to be no end in sight. The cedi continues to depreciate in spite of exchange rate controls implemented by the Bank of Ghana, which has only compounded the challenges of headlong plunge of the value of the cedi against the major currencies.”

Mr. Asamaoah further stated that the National Health Insurance Scheme is under serious financial stress, making the scheme unable to pay service providers.

He, however, indicated that they demand an immediate action by government to halt the depreciation of the cedi, immediate downward review of prices of petroleum products as well as immediate and effective policy measures to ensure that Tema Oil Refinery operates at full capacity.

Mr. Asamoah also made a passionate appeal to government to act fast or face another huge protest. Receiving the petition on behalf of the government, Mr. Iddrisu said government will try as much as possible to listen to the workers and put their concerns into considerations.

“You have to break an egg in order to eat an omelet” adding that we want to sit down with organized labour to listen to their concerns before we act on them.

He indicated that he is going to put orders in place to make sure that their concerns are resolved.

The demonstration took a different turn with police personnel threatening to use tear gas because they (the Police) would not allow the protestors to move to the Black Star Square since the Art Centre, which was the initially agreed venue to climax the demonstration was small to contain the number of people on the street.

In addition to that drama, the police also refused to allow journalists without official ID to move closer to the speakers at the event leading to scuffles with some of the reporters.

Speaking to DAILY HERITAGE, the Public Relations Officer of the Police, DSP Cephas Arthur said because the protestors were many, and the police could not contain the numbers, they had to call for reinforcement to ensure peace.

In all, a sizeable number of police personnel were deployed to make sure that peace and order prevailed during and after the demonstration led by the Greater Accra Regional Commander, DCOP Christian Tetteh Yehonu.

Philip Antoh further reports that the general atmosphere of the capital city went dead leaving passengers with no choice than to trek or engage the services of taxis because trotro drivers had abandoned the stations.

Albert Amekudzi also reports that traffic during the demonstration was unusual free flow of cars on some principal streets in the capital city as some drivers also went to demonstrate and, therefore, refused to pick passengers to their various destinations.

Madina to Kwame Nkrumah Circle which usually takes about one hour during traffic hours took about forty-five minutes due to the free flow of traffic.

Source: Daily Guide
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