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21.04.2004 Regional News

Interior Minister commends security agents in Brong Ahafo

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Sunyani (B/A) April 21, GNA- Mr. Hackman Owusu-Agyeman, Minister of Interior, on Monday commended security agencies in Brong-Ahafo for making the region most peaceful in the country.

He was addressing a durbar of Police Commanders and personnel during a two-day official visit to the region.

The Minister was however not happy about the number of chieftaincy problems in the region but expressed the hope that the Regional Coordinating Council would work to reverse the trend.

Mr. Owusu-Agyeman, who is also the MP for New Juabeng North, said the Government appreciated the role of the Police Service, adding that the provision of some immediate needs that the Service lacked for the last 20 years "should be enough to let even the doubting Thomases know that the Government recognises the crucial role of the police". "The Government has a 21.3 million dollar-package under which the Service would be provided with vehicles, two helicopters and other modern communication gadgets and equipment", he added.

The Interior Minister said the new Ghana Police would be nearer to their counterparts in South Africa, as the set up would include a crack team of special service unit to conduct 24-hour patrol and also handle tough criminals like armed robbers.

To ensure bodybuilding along side other Police training, Mr. Owusu-Agyemang announced that the Ministry would equip the Police with first-class facilities at the national and regional police training centres, adding that the facility would later be extended to the districts.

He said there were also plans for the Ministry to provide the Police with rugged vehicles for highway patrols as well as decent uniforms to commensurate with dignified role in the maintenance of law and order, saying one million dollars had been sourced from India for this purpose.

The Police would also be provided with MOWAGs in addition to bullet-proof vests and what he described as "Night Vision" accoutrement before the end of the year, he said, stressing "We are going to hit at the criminals"

"We are providing these not because the country is expecting danger, but like any serious country we are doing this for any eventuality", he explained.

Mr. Owusu-Agyemang asked the security agencies to let their loyalty for the state reign supreme in their duties.

"Like all human institutions people will find foul with the law and as police personnel, your profession should enable you to check such negative tendencies", he said.

Mr. Owusu-Agyemang advised the Police Motor Traffic and Transport Unit (MTTU) against letting vehicles to pass without the necessary check for a token 'fee' only for such vehicles to later get involved in accidents.

He said his Ministry had referred service conditions of the Police to a committee to work on the whole structure of the Services and allowances for the Government to assess the needs of Policemen.

"We will do it but we need your time and a bit of patience", he said.

He urged the Police to respect the culture of maintenance to protect government property under their care.

Mr. Owusu-Agyemang reminded the service personnel about the forthcoming general elections and said as individuals, each of them had the right to belong to a political party of his or her choice but that should be kept to themselves and work as professional police personnel.

"The Government will deal ruthlessly with any police personnel who will perform unprofessionally, especially before, during and after elections", he warned.

At an open forum, the springing up of private security companies and the mode of dressing of their staff came up for discussion. A questioner was at a loss as to how the uniforms of some of the private security companies were no different from the regular police, the Army or the Immigration Service.

He suggested the enactment of a law allowing one type of uniform for the private security companies and to be differentiated by names and office tags.

Earlier Mr. Owusu-Agyemang visited the new site for the Regional Police building and residential area, off the Sunyani-Abesim main road and inspected the work of three contractors working at the site. 21 April 04

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