General News Wed, 22 Dec 1999

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Y2K fears and anxiety as millennium approaches

Accra, Dec. 22, GNA - Y2K fears and anxiety over signs of the end times, as predicted in the Good Book, have brought on feelings of anticipation tainted with superstition among Ghanaians as 2000 approaches.

Evangelists are giving last-minute sermons to free lost souls from the biblical Armageddon while officialdom dreads the millennium bug. But amidst all this, Ghanaians want to enter the new year swinging. As the case is in countries across the globe, elaborate official and private activities have been planned for the days leading to and just after the millennium.

In Ghana, the roll of activities ranges of from a Latin America-style street carnival, musical extravaganza featuring the British reggae group, Steel Pulse, raffles, religious retreats, traditional durbars and beach splashes. Yet, beneath all this euphoria lie currents of trepidation brought on by events like wars, environmental destruction, stark immorality and strange phenomena, which in the Bible mark signs of the end-times.

Among the uneducated, these fears have been heightened by superstition. For instance news of an asteroid approaching the earth has led some to believe that it would crush our dear planet even though scientists say it would not come anywhere near.

These strange happenings have given some evangelists a field day, with some promising comfort and salvation from the impending "doom", making the most unimaginable promises and demands from gullible masses. Others have promised their flock "fireworks" at the last of their annual conventions to be held at venues across the country.

Meanwhile, government, its agencies, commercial houses and transport service providers have taken pains to allay fears of a major breakdown arising from computer malfunction, while the Ministry of Communications, the official Y2K body, would be on high alert on the 31st and New Year's day. The Civil Aviation Authority has given the assurance that it is 100 percent ready for the millennium roll-over.

The Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) bubbling with confidence that it is fully compliant, has decided to waive all charges for the first 10 airliners that would take off or land at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) between December 31 and mid-day January one. Also included are the first 10 airliners that would fly within the

Accra Information Region between the said period. GCAA oversees the Information Region, which covers Ghana, Togo and Benin. Wing Commander Andy Mensah, Director-General of the GCAA, has assured stakeholders in the aviation industry that KIA and the GCAA are Y2K compliant. GCAA has re-activated its redundant system to meet envisaged and speculative emergencies.

It has also installed new equipment that would ensure safety and security of flight operations in the next millennium. The banks say our money is safe and the Ghana Water Company and Electricity Company of Ghana say there will be uninterrupted services. If our taps ran dry or power goes off, it cannot be blamed on Y2K. It may be due to the perennial problems the public has lived with for years.

The national carrier, Ghana Airways, is, however, taking no chances; even though it says its machines are fully compliant, it would not make any flights on December 31 and January One. The Ministry of Health is also giving an assurance that equipment in the hospitals throughout the country will run normally come January one and "there is no cause to panic." Perhaps those with little to worry about Y2K and yet are very important to the economy would be informal/petty traders.

They would be cashing in for the holidays as their more formal colleagues hold back transactions and brood over their millennium plight. In the end the effects of Y2K and the end-time would be felt individually. While some would celebrate a new millennium for being street-wise or scheming, others would be counting the costs of having been ripped-off or losing a fortune to the indispensable computer. GNA

Source: GNA

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