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General News of Thursday, 23 May 2019

Source: Starrfm.com.gh

Disconnect your power if you can’t pay bills – Minister to Krobos

The Eastern Regional Minister, Eric Kwakye Darfuor, has slammed rioting residents of Lower Manya Krobo asking them to go off the national grid if they cannot pay electricity bills.

According to the Regional Minister, it is impossible for their demand for free electricity supply to be met therefore they must be ready to pay electricity bills presented to them by Power Distribution Services, PDS, or get off the National grid.

“We are all Ghanaians, we are all human beings, we don’t want anybody to be mistreated. People should feel free and go about their duties legitimately. If you feel you cannot pay for electricity cut it off. It is optional, the only thing that universally is free in Ghana now is Free SHS not electricity bill.”

The Regional Minister said this Thursday during a stakeholders meeting jointly held by the Eastern Regional Security Council and Municipal Security Council at Odumase Krobo following deadly protest by Power consumers in the Lower Manya Municipality on alleged Over billing and disconnection exercise by PDS which led to death of a 15-year-old and injured over five persons.

According to the Regional Minister, there is no free energy anywhere in the world and that what government of Ghana has done is to reduce electricity tarrif for various consumers.

“Everybody, the Rich and Poor, you have to pay for electricity. Fuel has never been for free whether it is firewood or charcoal or solar or anything it is never free. Never in this world, I haven’t seen it before”.

The Regional Minister has meanwhile ordered for the arrest of leaders of groups and individuals masterminding the riot in the area.

Members of both REGSEC and MUSEC had meanwhile visited the Konor of Manya Krobo, Nene Sakitey to hold a close door meeeting with him.

The Public Relations Officer of the Manya Krobo Traditional Council ,Nene Asada Ahor ,told the media Konor is not happy with the violent approach adopted by the youth adding that they did not channel their grievances through the traditional authority for diplomatic means to be use to have it address.

35 persons were on Wednesday arrested during the riot.

The protest

The youth organized a spontaneous protest to petition the Municipal Chief Executive for the Area, Kwaku Simon Tetteh, on their concerns on over billing by PDS and its ongoing mass disconnection exercise.

The youth had earlier on Wednesday morning mounted road blocks and pelted the PDS Staff with stones and sticks at Yohe, a community near Odumase Krobo when PDS staff 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. It took the intervention of armed Police personnel to rescue the PDS staff.

The PDS staff decided to switch off the transformer cutting off power supply to the entire area.

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 has led to clashes between the youth and the Police. Many warnings shots have been fired to disperse the youth who are also attacking the Police with stones and other implements.

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 is 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 by 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 long standing feud between residents and workers of ECG now PDS .In 2017, angry residents in Somanya attacked PDS office for over billing.

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.