Twenty-four-year-old, Veronica Akosua Bekoe, escaped death by a whisker during the clashes between police and rioting residents of Lower Manya Krobo.
The residents, protesting what they termed deliberate overbilling and mass disconnection exercise by the staff of Power Distribution Services (PDS) violently brawled with the police, leading to the death of a 15-year-old and several others critically injured on Wednesday, May 22.
Veronica, who is a sachet water seller was caught up in the chaos as the police indiscriminately shot at their adversaries when she was trying to make her way to the Agormanya market centre, carrying 30 pieces of refrigerated sachet water otherwise known as ‘pure water’.
Some of the bullets penetrated the aluminium bowl which she was carrying on the head, sending shivers down her spine of those of others stranded by the chaos, triggering panic flee, many running helter-skelter to safety, then another bullet flew over her to hit an object where she was running towards.
“I was returning from the house while carrying the pure water towards the market area so all that I saw were people running, then, I heard gunshots being fired, something hit my bowl and the water was coming out. I managed to run away but while running another bullet passed over my head,” Veronica told Starr News.
She said she has been traumatised since the incident.
Angry youth of Kpongunor organized a spontaneous protest to petition the Municipal Chief Executive for the Area, Kwaku Simon Tetteh, on their concerns on overbilling by PDS and its ongoing mass disconnection exercise.
They had earlier in the morning of the fateful day, Wednesday, May 22 mounted roadblocks and pelted the PDS staff with stones and sticks at Yohe, a community near Odumase Krobo when they went to the community to discontinue its mass disconnection exercise.
The irate youth smashed a PDS Nissan Pick Up with Registration Number GV 2318-1 and it took the intervention of armed police personnel to rescue the PDS staff.
The PDS staff decided to switch off the transformers cutting off the power supply to many communities.
Shortly after the attack, the angry youth mobilized to embark on a protest to petition the MCE but the armed Police rushed to protect the Municipal Assembly Office by preventing the youth from entering the premises.
This led to clashes between the youth and the Police. Many warnings shots were fired to disperse the youth who were also attacking the Police with stones and other implements. The arrival of the reinforcement team from the Regional Police Headquarters saw brute force and indiscriminate discharge of firearms leading to the death of a 24-year-old young man while seven persons including a final Year JHS student shot in the leg while returning from market.
Thirty-five persons were arrested during the riot.
Injuries amidst warning shots
Three people were injured after a similar chaos Monday at Manya Kpongunor over mass disconnection exercise by Power Distribution Services (PDS).
Reports indicated that the Police reinforcement team fired tear gas after they were attacked by the youth.
PDS was embarking on a mass disconnection exercise with armed Police personnel in Somanya, Odumase Krobo and its environs.
The exercise dubbed “Revenue Mobilization” according to Somanya District Manager of PDS Ing. Edward Ochire has become necessary due to the failure of many residents to pay their electricity bills since 2017. A situation he said has led to revenue shortfalls of the company.
Hundreds of houses have been disconnected in the ongoing exercise which started May 13, 2019, from Kpong and Nuaso communities.
One person was put behind bars for attempting to resist disconnection of his house. Since the exercise began, many of the affected residents have been trooping to the offices of PDS to pay their accumulated bills ranging between Ghc3, 000 and Ghc 20,000
There has been a long-standing feud between residents and workers of ECG now PDS. In 2017, angry residents in Somanya attacked PDS office for overbilling.
Police vehicles were torched and properties destroyed in the violent attacks. Many residents have since refused to pay electricity bills and have threatened to attack PDS staff who attempt disconnecting their homes.