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Mahama Doesn’t Respect N/R – Group
 
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29-Jun-2016  
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President John Dramani Mahama has been accused of having little or no regard for the Northern Region by a group made up of opposition parties including the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Convention People’s Party (CPP), People’s National Convention (PNC), and the All People’s Congress (APC) in the Northern Region.

These parties have jointly released a statement cataloguing their concerns, key among them being the exorbitant utility tariffs confronting the people in the region and the entire country.

The statement said: “The President does not care for the poor northerner. President Mahama and his government cannot continue to take us for granted and treat the people of the north as if we are only good for votes.”

Below is the full statement:

REDUCE THE KILLER ELECTRICITY TARRIF NOW, MR PRESIDENT

A Joint Press Statement
Ladies and gentlemen of the press, thank you for honouring our invitation. This is the first time in recent history that all the main opposition political parties in the Northern Region (NPP, CPP, PNC and PPP) have come together as one to address the media.

This show of unity by itself is testament to the seriousness of the issue that has brought us here. We are not alone, joining us to address this press conference are several identifiable groups, including dressmakers, hairdressers, barbers, welders, small-scale industrialists, shopkeepers, restaurateurs, hoteliers, drivers, traders, etc.

As you know, the Northern Region is reeling under the weight of many problems, including 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 here.

But after three straight years of dumsor, one issue that has compounded all the problems already facing the people of the North and has hit us like a sick person being administered poison on his sick bed, is what has brought all of us, the opposition political parties and businesses together here today for this press conference. That single killer issue, ladies and gentlemen, is the cost of electricity.

We called you here to help as carry this important message to the attention of the President of the Republic, John Dramani Mahama. The message is this: the people and businesses in the Northern Region can no longer cope with the killer electricity tariffs that have been imposed on us since December by the NDC government.

We are, therefore, issuing an ultimatum to the President of the Republic: REDUCE ELECTRICITY PRICES BY AT LEAST 50% WITHIN ONE WEEK OR FACE THE FULL FORCE OF THE ANGER OF THE PEOPLE OF THE NORTHERN REGION. The President does not respect the North.

President Mahama and his government cannot continue to take us for granted and treat the people of the North as if we are only good for votes.

In the last four years since he took over as President he has exploited the fact that he is a Gonja 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%. This is pure stealing. This is criminal.

How can a government say our bills are going up 60%, which is even cruel, and end up billing us two, three, four times more? We are talking here about a president of a political party that says it is for the poor.

A president who says he recognises that our region is poor because he was born here; a president who claims he is doing something about the poverty here. Is imposing killer tariffs on an already impoverished society the way to tackle poverty, change lives and transform the North?

What the North has gotten from the presidency of John Dramani Mahama is increasing hardship. Unemployment is at an all-time high.

The reality is that businesses are collapsing. Those that are still operating are laying off workers to control costs. It is as if businesses in the Northern Region these days are working for VRA/NED. They spend most of their earnings just to keep the lights on. 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.

Another dressmaker, who used to employ about six people as full time staff and ten others as apprentices, has been forced to stop taking on apprentice and reduced her staff strength to only two. Like many of her colleagues, she says she can no longer use her electric machines because of killer tariffs.

But, using manual machines have also reduced her productivity and at a period where orders are very low. 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, there are both paying the same for the same consumption of electricity?

This is not fairness, Mr President from the North. Our people are being made poorer and poorer by the policies of a ruling party that has taken the North for granted for far so long. It is this situation that accounts for the unprecedented high cases of illegal connections and consumption of electricity in our region, especially, Tamale.

Many otherwise law-abiding people have now abandoned the sprinting prepaid meters to do illegal connections. The irony is that, whiles President Mahama and his IMF friends are saying VRA, NED, ECG, GRIDCO, etc need more money to be efficient, by hiking prices beyond the reach of many consumers, some have simply stopped paying and consuming power for free, through illegal connections. This situation can only be created by a clueless, incompetent government.

Here in Tamale, many hotels and other medium-size businesses that rely relatively heavily on power find it cheaper to use generator than the national grid.

Indeed, power from VRA is now the standby generator. Yes, there are hotels that find it more cost-effective to use their standby generators instead even when there is no ‘dum’.

Pharmacists are opening their main doors to fresh air rather than use electricity to preserve their drugs, at the risk of contaminating the drugs. Banks cannot put on all their security lights at night. Radio stations are forced to close earlier than schedule to cut cost.

The people in Tamale, for example, pay about four times more for electricity than the people in Ouagadougou. This has resulted in more unemployment, more hardships and more frustration, especially on the part of the youth who feel arrested by hopelessness and a sense of being marginalised by society. The situation is not that different in Upper West and Upper East. It is not that different in Volta and Central Regions. In fact, the tomato farmers in Aflao, knowing they pay a lot more for their power than their neighbours in Lome, hit the streets last month in protest.

Just last week in Accra, the people of three communities, La, Nungua and Teshie, also hit the streets in protest against these same killer tariffs. The President responded by promising to do something about the killer tariffs.

We are calling on the President to make do his promise of reducing electricity prices next week by reducing it to a rate that makes sense. Let no body say price adjustment of electricity is out of the control of government.

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.

Ladies and gentlemen of the press, we will discuss with you our next line of action if the government fails to respond to our demand for at least a 50% reduction on electricity tariffs by this time next week.

Thanks.
 
 
 
Source: Classfmonline
 
 

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