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28.05.2004 Regional News

Cabbies strike in Navrongo, alleging Police harassment

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Navrongo (U/E), May 28, GNA - Taxi Drivers at Navrongo in the Kassena-Nankana District of the Upper East Region on Monday went on a five-hour strike in protest against a Police Inspector, whom they alleged had been terrorizing them.

The Cabbies began the strike against Chief Inspector Cletus Webye of the Navrongo Charge Office at 0800 hours with a peaceful demonstration from the lorry station to the offices of the District Assembly, calling it off at about 1300 hours when the District Chief Executive, Mr George Danyare intervened, after holding an emergency meeting of the District Security Committee (DISEC). The half-day strike led to workers, traders and other travellers to and from Navrongo getting stranded.

Addressing the Drivers, Mr Danyare commended them for making the demonstration peaceful and urged them to go back to work while their grievances were being addressed.

He said the Government would ensure that all Ghanaians went about their duties without hindrance, adding that the DISEC would, therefore, take the necessary measures to ensure that the Police did not harass them. In an interview with the Ghana News Agency , the Spokesman for the Drivers, Mr Edward Pwayirane said the attitude of the Police Officer towards drivers in the area was making it difficult for most of them to operate on major routes that linked Navrongo to other towns in the Region.

He said Chief Inspector Webye did not only board their vehicles without paying, but he also insisted on being put down at specific destinations of his choice without compromise and failure to comply normally resulted in harassment.

Mr Pwayirane said on Sunday the Chief Inspector joined a Bolgatanga - Navrongo taxi, driven by one Joseph Kazua Abase at Bolgatanga while he was off duty, and that during the journey he had a row with the Driver because he was carrying pepper in the boot.

He said as soon as they got to Navrongo, Chief Inspector Webye instructed Abase to drive straight to the Police Station, but the Driver told him he wanted to send the other passengers to the lorry station first so the Policeman took offence.

Mr Pwayirane said the Chief Inspector forcibly removed the car keys from the ignition while it was moving, thus jamming the power steering and breaking system. Consequently, the driver lost control and the taxi veered into a gutter.

Mr Abase, who also spoke to the GNA, said when the accident occurred he went to the Police Station to report. He said the Chief Inspector followed up and ordered his men to beat and locked him up in cells.

He said when he was later granted bail and requested for a medical form to go to the hospital the Police refused to give him the form.

The Upper East Regional Secretary of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Alhaji Abdulai Bawa, who also intervened to clam the Drivers, appealed to the DCE to thoroughly investigate the complaints made by the Cabbies and to make sure justice took its course.

He said a few individuals should not be allowed to exploit their offices for personal gain, pointing out that he would take a personal interest in the issues raised as a Trade Unionist.

Chief Inspector Webye denied all the allegations made against him, when the GNA eventually got in touch with him on Thursday.

He claimed that Alhaji Bawa, a resident of Navrongo, incited the drivers against him because of a case in which the Alhaji bailed a Burkinabe Driver, who was arrested for a traffic offence.

Chief Inspector Webye, who prosecuted the case, said the suspect ran away and the Court, after several adjournments without the suspect, issued a bench warrant for the arrest and detention of Alhaji Bawa in prison custody.

He said it was this action that compelled the Regional TUC Secretary to look for the Burkinabe to appear before the Court for prosecution, adding that since that time Alhaji Bawa had been inciting his "Boys" to get him out of the area.