Mr. Elvis Vanlere of TUC reading petition as Alhaji Ibrahim Alhassan of VRCC look on
Residents, including traders, civil servants and business owners in Ho, the Volta Regional capital, have expressed dissatisfaction over what they described as killer and unbearable tariffs imposed by the Mahama-led government.
According to the residents who joined the demonstration by organised labour, the increases in fuel prices, taxes and high inflation rates are a clear evidence of how insensitive the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government is towards Ghanaians.
Two of them, Vivian Allo and Mawuli Gliko wondered, “How does Mahama expect us to take care of our children? Very soon he will take his ex-gratia and he will enjoy with his family, but we have to suffer, pay taxes for others to enjoy the money in painting buses.”
They made these lamentations during the Volta Region edition of the nationwide demonstration staged yesterday to prevail on the government to reduce utility tariffs, taxes and fuel prices.
Demonstrators started moving from the Civic Centre at about 9:20 am with a little over a hundred people. However, as the protest march progressed, many more joined raising the number to over 300.
Although not a huge number, it was encouraging as compared to previous demonstrations held in the region – touted as being most sympathetic towards the current NDC government.
All except a few of the protestors were clad in red with red hand and head bands to match. They danced to brass band music as they sang and clapped to express their dissatisfaction.
They also wielded placards with inscriptions such as “Mr. President Wake Up,” “Mr. President Workers are Truly Hungry,” “What does the future hold for workers?” “10% increment is woefully inadequate, Reduce Tarrifs Now,” “GH¢20.00 power a day in a single room,” “Protect our local businesses” and “Dumsor has collapsed business.”
After going through some principal streets of Ho, they rounded off at the forecourt of the Volta Regional Coordinating Council (VRCC).
Demonstrators on the road
For reason unknown to the demonstrators, the Volta Regional Minister, Helen Ntoso and her deputy, Francis Ganyaglo, were unavailable to receive the petition presented by the Volta Regional Secretary of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Elvis Vanlere. As a result, the Regional Coordinating Director, Alhaji Ibrahim Alhasan, received the petition on their behalf.
Presenting the petition, Mr. Vanlere stressed that although tariff increases might be necessary, the current increases are unbearable as the 10% salary increment does not make up for the losses in the income of workers.
He explained that “it is more of a salary decrement than increment, since a total of 17% inflation rate, 33% fuel price increment, 59% increment in electricity tariff, 67.2% water tariff increment among others, take close to half of the salary of workers and profits of business people.”
He added that the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) had also confirmed that industry is seriously suffering due to the reckless and insensitive increases in taxes, tariffs and levies.
Mr. Vanlere therefore called on government to as a matter of urgency, ensure a drastic reduction of these tariffs and taxes, maintain lifeline consumption for water at 0 to 20 cubic meters and withdraw the energy sector levies which had caused the astronomical fuel price hikes.
He assured, “We will start picketing, locking our offices and stop work until we get what we want.”
From Fred Duodu, Ho ([email protected])