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General News of Wednesday, 31 May 2017


14 Somanya residents remanded in cells after demo against ECG bills

The demonstrators besieged the Somanya office of ECG to demand explanations the the high bills The demonstrators besieged the Somanya office of ECG to demand explanations the the high bills

A Koforidua Circuit Court, has remanded the 14 suspects, who were arrested on Monday for masterminding a demonstration, that led to an attack on the Somanya branch of Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG).

The 14 led some residents to also vandalize the Somanya Police station in the Eastern Region, where they freed four suspects in police cell.

They were charged with causing unlawful damage, conspiracy to riot, rioting with weapons, unlawful assembling and causing unlawful damage to properties.

The court presided over by Ms. Mercy Adei Kotei, refused a plea for bail for the accused persons when their lawyer, Simon Animey, requested for it.

The lawyer in an interview with Citi News indicated his disappointment in the court’s refusal to grant his clients bail.

The lawyer also served notice that he will go to the High Court to have his demands met.

Ms Mercy Adei Kotei, explained that, the suspects would interfere with Police investigations if granted bail, and thus remanded them to reappear on June 13, 2017.

Hundreds of angry youth on Monday evening besieged the Somanya Police station, vandalized property, set fire to a police car, freeing four suspected criminals in police custody.

Their action saw many officers around the station, fleeing for their lives. Their action was sparked by the arrest of a resident, an Assembly Member, who is accused of masterminding an earlier violent demonstration against the ECG over high bills.

President Akufo-Addo during the 2016 campaign promised to reduce electricity tariff, because it had become more expensive than rent in the country, but he has since put staff of the state-owned company in harm’s way almost six months after taking over the administration of the country and failing to honour the vow.

Last Friday, angry residents of Somanya and its environs in the Yilo Krobo Municipality, embarked on a massive demonstration against the Akufo-Addo government over high electricity bills vandalizing the company’s vehicles, smashing the Somanya EGC office and nearly injuring some workers of the company.

Ahead of the 2016 election, President Akufo-Addo and his party; the New Patriotic Party (NPP) made electricity tariffs one of their central campaign messages with the then opposition leader, publicly promising to reduce the bills for Ghanaians, when elected. But the government appears to have deliberately forgotten the pledge.

The demonstrators made up of old men and women, but predominantly youth, wielding clubs and machetes amidst chanting war songs, besieged the Somanya office of ECG to demand explanations for the high bills and reinstallation of ECG meters to the home and workplaces of the demonstrators, whose meters were taken out.

Many homes in the Yilo Krobo and Manya Krobo areas, have not been receiving ECG bills for long periods ranging from three months to 2 years.

Homes that have been receiving bills too, have had their bills shoot up between 500 to a 1000 percent. But the ECG workers, lately turn up in homes with accumulated bills and then suddenly disconnect those homes without reason.

Residents have been disappointed at the Akufo-Addo government for not reducing the tariffs as promised.

Due to this development, the residents have been meeting to plan a demonstration against government for such ballooning tariffs.

The demonstration was slated for this week, but last Friday morning, ECG workers went to the workplace of one of organisers of the impending demonstration, Jonas Tetteh, (aka Dendenden) who is also an Assembly member to disconnect him and took away his metre.

The youth upon seeing this action by the ECG workers, chased them out leaving their two vehicles.

The youth deflated all tires of both vehicles and smashed the windscreens and then they marched to the premises of the Somanya ECG to demand the reinstallation of the meters and restoration of power.

It took the intervention of the MP for the area, Lawyer Kofi Amoatey for the meters to be released, but the release happened after state properties had been vandalized.

The ECG had promised to respond to the issues raised by the demonstrating youth within a week.

One woman cried “the bills are still going higher, but Nana promised to reduce them. Why is Nana not reducing the bills? I use a bulb and a standing fan, but my bill for February is GH¢ 40”.

“I have not even received that of March and April, another woman said.

The youth demands are that government reduce the bills as promised or no ECG worker, will be allowed to touch any meter in the area.

Workers of ECG in Somanya, now live in fear, they have locked up their offices and left.