Massive Demo Rocks Mahama

The nation’s capital, Accra, came to a standstill yesterday when thousands of Ghanaians poured onto the streets to register their frustration against the Mahama administration’s poor handling of the energy crisis that has bedevilled the nation.

Ghana is currently undergoing a load-shedding exercise, popularly called ‘dumsor’, which is affecting productivity badly and the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), led by its flagbearer Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, mobilised Ghanaians to tell the government ‘enough is enough’.

There was heavy vehicular traffic because of the demonstration that stretched from the Kwame Nkrumah Circle to the Central Business District of Accra, bringing all commercial activities to a halt, albeit in a peaceful manner.

Power distributor, the Electricity Company of Ghana, currently sheds between 440 and 650 Megawatts of power during off-peak and peak periods as a result of a production deficit, with families having to endure 24 hours lights off and 12 hours with light.

This production shortfall has come about as a result of what has been said to be poor hydrology of the three main hydro-electric power stations – Akosombo, Bui and Kpong – and the lack of gas from the West Africa Gas Pipeline in Nigeria to supply gas to various thermal plants in Ghana.

As a result, both domestic and commercial consumers are bearing the brunt of the crisis, which Power Minister Dr Kwabena Donkor recently promised will end by December 2015.

The stride
The protest march dubbed ‘Wongbo Demo’, literally meaning ‘We are dying demonstration’, was therefore staged to get government to quicken the process of fixing the problem.

It saw many from all walks of life in attendance, including the old and young, rich and poor, causing huge vehicular traffic in the capital.

As early as 6:00am, people had started arriving at the starting point of the march in front of the popular Obra Spot at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle, clad in black and red attires amidst drumming and dancing.

Hours later, presidential candidate of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Akufo-Addo, arrived at the event venue together with his running mate Dr Mahamudu Bawumia in the company of their wives.

Akufo-Addo defied overtures for him to ride in a vehicle, as he walked from the beginning to the end of the demonstration, surprising those who claimed that he was not fit.

Also present were Alan Kwadwo Kyerematen and several other NPP gurus including General Secretary Kwabena Agyepong, Vice Chairman Freddie Blay, former ministers in the erstwhile Kufuor administration, as well as former and sitting Members of Parliament (MPs).

A spontaneous but thunderous applause and cheers resonated from the swelling crowd as a welcome note.

Leaders of the opposition party could hardly step out of their vehicles until their personal security and police brought the crowd under control.

Barely 15 minutes there the demonstration in motion, with the NPP flagbearer in the thick of affairs.

The protesters walked through the principal streets of Accra wielding placards with various inscriptions, some of which read: ‘Wow! What a John’; ‘Woyε bad President’, ‘Where is the oil money?’, ‘Hairdressers Îµdwuma εgu’, ‘John bεn nie?’, ‘εnka Mills mpo ye’, ‘Yabre ne dumsor’, ‘Drop that Mahama’, and ‘We need a leader; not a travel agent.’

The rest are: ‘Ghana now a debt colony under NDC’, ‘Take your better Ghana and bring back our normal Ghana’, ‘Businesses are collapsing’, ‘Take your dum and give us our sor’, ‘Mahama must go’, ‘Mahama, stop the empty travels’, ‘John bεkÉ”; Nana bεba’ and a host of others.

People stood on rooftops and by the shoulders of the road to cheer them on with applause and shouts of ‘wongbo’. As some mimicked the sign of change, others peeped from the windows of their offices, taking photos and video footages of the demonstrators.

Students Join
Some of the protesters took with them various electrical appliances including fridges, irons, generator sets, sewing machines, television sets, with others holding lanterns and lamps.

The fridges which some protesters carried on their heads from the starting to the end of the demonstration had on them inscriptions like ‘Kwasia bi nti me fridge asεe’.

There was no better time for pupils of the Mantse Tackey Liberty Avenue cluster of schools to register their displeasure against the power outages which is obviously affecting learning, as they joined the demonstration during their break period.

Their action attracted a considerable number of people to the school gate as they tried to shake hands with the demonstrators who cheered them on as their tutors looked on in shock.

But confusion nearly broke out when the protesters got to the Old Farisco traffic light where hot water tankers were stationed and manned by armed police officers.

This was when some police officers tried to prevent the protesters from using the road to Kingsway area (around the Swanzy Shopping Arcade).

But the charged crowd broke ranks and penetrated the barricade and human wall that the police had formed and headed straight for the Accra Central Business District, through Kantamanto to Makola and Rawlings Park areas, which have been declared a no-go area for demonstrations.

Commissioner of Police (COP) John Kudalor asked his men to stand down to obviously avoid any confrontation with the protesters while other schedule officers, including COP Rose Bio Atinga, stared in awe with no option.

The protesters went agog on reaching the central business district area where traders, especially market women, stopped their business activities to join them amidst wild cheers and chants of ‘Nana oo, Nana oo’.

Some laid their cloths on the floor for Akufo-Addo and Bawumia to walk on, seeing them as their messiahs.

When they finally arrived at the convergence point (the final destination), Akufo-Addo addressed the media from the roof of his open-top vehicle with journalists struggling to hear what he was saying.

Within minutes, he had finished his address to the surprise of many who could not hear a thing, with signs of disappointment boldly written on their faces.

A similar demo is scheduled for the Ashanti regional capital, Kumasi, come February 24, to be followed by yet another one by a group that calls itself ‘Concerned Ghanaians’ (CG).

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