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22.02.2004 Regional News

Banks dissatisfied with police guards

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Koforidua, Feb. 22, GNA- Majority of the banks in the Koforidua Municipality have expressed dissatisfaction about the performance of policemen assigned to guard their premises.

They have, therefore, appealed on the Police Administration to take a second look at its recent decision to raise its security levy on the banks from 250,000 cedis to one million cedis per policeman per month with effect from January, this year.

The appeal was made by 10 out of the 11 banks in the town on their assessment of the performance of police guards.

Only four commercial banks said they had no problem with the performance of the policemen, while the rest, mostly Rural Banks and the Association of Rural Banks (ARB), declared their dissatisfaction.

The aggrieved managers cited lack of punctuality, loitering during duty and absenteeism among the attitudes of most of the guards over a long period of observation.

The survey by the Ghana News Agency found that the banks, apart from paying the 250,000 cedis per month per head to the Police Headquarters, they were also offering the men between 20,000 to 50,000 cedis per week per man as stipend for lunch.

The managers stated that besides engaging the policemen "we also felt obliged to engage the services of private security personnel, in addition to day and night watchmen, to make the security system solid." "We feel strongly that the Police Administration's sudden steep increase in the guard levy is too arbitrary since it was not commensurate with the output we receive from their men", one of the managers said.

Some of the managers, however, were full of commendation for the Eastern Regional Police Commander, ACP Victor Gyakpata, who, they said, had instituted monthly meetings with them to review the situation and come out with proposed improvement in the system.

The Administrator of the Eastern Regional Association of Rural Banks (ARB) office, Mr Josiah Eshun, when contacted, confirmed the Rural Bank's complaints.

He said the complaints had been brought up at the monthly meetings with the Police Command but "not much improvements had been noticed yet."

Mr Eshun noted that lack of enough police personnel to escort the mobile banking system introduced by the ARB was affecting the effort to pay for cocoa purchased by licensed Cocoa Buying Companies in the rural areas to save the farmers from having to trek long distances to cash their Akuafo Cheques.

When contacted, Mr Gyakpata who acknowledged the complaints against his men, however, said measures were been taken to solve the problem. He attributed the situation to lack of men under the Mobile Force Unit, which undertakes the guard duties, saying there are currently only 30 of them, some of whom guard the VIPs including the homes and persons of judges.

"Some of them are compelled to work 12 hours a day, instead of the statutory eight hours as enjoyed by other personnel", he said. Mr Gyakpata expressed his sympathy with the personnel, whom he said, due to lack of enough vehicles, have to trek to and from their duty posts daily with their weapons "even against current service regulations."

He said through the monthly meetings with the banks they have come out with some measures to deal with the problems such as using part of the lunch stipends to prepare lunch rations at the police canteen to be distributed to the guards at their posts.

The Commander said he had put a team of senior officers in place to monitor the conduct of the men at posts, saying, already, three of them were facing service disciplinary action for alleged misconduct. He confirmed the readiness of the Police Administration to examine the background of persons to be recruited by any bank, to be trained and armed by their employers to do security work.

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