Opposition parties in the Northern Region yesterday held a joint press conference to articulate the hardships imposed on the people, with particular reference to the killer electricity tariffs, and to demand action from the Mahama government.
The parties present included the New Patriotic Party, Convention People’s Party, People’s National Convention, All People’s Congress and the Progressive People’s Party. There were also identifiable groups, including dressmakers, hairdressers, barbers, welders, small-scale industrialists, among others.
They issued a one-week ultimatum to President John Mahama to ensure a 50 per cent reduction in the tariffs or face their wrath.
During his recent “Accounting to the people” tour of the Greater Accra region, the president gave the assurance that, starting from July 1, 2016, Ghanaians would heave a sigh of relief with a downwards adjustment in the current humungous electricity tariffs.
The President’s assurance followed a demonstration by residents of three adjoining communities in Accra, La, Teshie and Nungua, over the unbearable tariffs.
The opposition parties in the Northern Region yesterday served notice that they would not entertain any reduction in the tariffs which is less than 50 per cent.
“If the President was not behind it he would not have promised ECG consumers in Accra to expect price reduction by 1st July. Mr President, reduce electricity tariffs by at least half within seven days or face the full force of our collective anger,” they charged.
Mohammed Abdul-Kudus, Northern Regional Director of Communications for the New Patriotic Party, who read the joint statement, pointed out that the astronomical increase in the cost of electricity had compounded the already existing problems in the northern region.
He mentioned the problems to include “unemployment, bad harvest, failing schools, bad roads, bad housing, ill-equipped health facilities, lack of access to clean water, rising cost of living and the pocketing of taxpayers’ money disbursed for development.”
The opposition statement noted that even though the NDC had enjoyed tremendous support from the northern region over the years, in terms of votes, the people had been taken for granted by President Mahama, who is only good at soliciting for votes during election year.
“In the last four years since he took over as President he has exploited the fact that he is one of us, a Northerner from this Region for nothing else but votes and corrupt projects. What he has visited on us, in return for votes, have been sheer pain and misery. He lied to us when we were told in December that our electricity prices were to go up by about 60%. We cried because 60% was unheard of. But worse was to come. In reality, not a single consumer in this Region is paying less than twice what they used to pay before December 2015. In fact, in many instances, VRA/NED customers have seen their bills shot up to 200% and some even 300%,” the statement added.
“Is imposing killer tariffs on an already impoverished society the way to tackle poverty, change lives and transform the North?” it asked.
According to the opposition parties, increasing unemployment and collapse of businesses are now the major ‘benefits’ the north has enjoyed from President Mahama and the NDC. It added that even those businesses that are still in operation are constantly sacking workers due to the ever increasing production cost, as a result of the astronomical cost in electricity bill.
“Just this morning, a seamstress in tears gave account of how she used to buy GH¢50 worth of electricity credit before and how that lasted her for a whole month. But, currently, she spends GH¢60 a week even though she is consuming less! What is even worse is that her income has reduced by half since people cannot even afford to bring her dresses to sow,” the statement stressed.
The group corroborated an earlier statement made by the flagbearer of the NPP, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, that Ghanaians are paying more for electricity than their rent.
“The situation is not that different with barbers, cold store owners, welders, school proprietors and restaurant owners. They say they are all working just to pay electricity bills. The average employee, who is law abiding enough to have a legal connection, is saying they are paying more in electricity than the income they earn. How? Where is the fairness and caring for the poor when the poorer people in the North are forced to pay as much in keeping their lights on as the people in a place like Accra if not more? Even though the average worker in Accra earns more than the same worker in Tamale, they are both paying the same for the same consumption of electricity. This is not fairness, Mr President from the North.”
Source: Daily Statesman
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