01.03.2005 General News

Public reacts to "Wahala" demonstration

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Accra, March 1, GNA - Public reaction towards the "Wahala Demonstration" staged by the Committee for Joint Action (CJA) on Tuesday was that of indifference since most people said the Government would not change its decision on the prices of petroleum products.

While the demonstrators held placards some of which read - "Petrol Price Na Wahala"; "Pure Water 300 Cedis, We Will Die"; "School Fees Wahala" and "GBA Speak Up" - to express dissatisfaction with the policies of the Government, some observers said the demonstration was useless. Dubbed the "Wahala Demonstration", its organisers said it was a means through which the people could register their unhappiness and the pain they were going through due to the general price increases as a result of the increase in fuel price.

After marching through some principal streets of Accra the demonstrators converged a few metres from the main entrance to the State House, awaiting their leaders, who had gone to Parliament to present a petition to the Legislature.

Mr Aseidu Nketia, a former NDC Member of Parliament, who addressed the demonstrators, said it was sad that the Government had to increase fuel prices before thinking about increasing the minimum wage of workers. He said President John Agyekum Kufuor and members of his Government deceived Ghanaians into believing that they had come to power to mitigate the suffering of the ordinary people but they had rather worsened their plight.

When Mr Nketia asked the demonstrators whether they could pay their children's school fees. Give "chop money'' and go about their daily activities without difficulty and they responded: "No!" Other speakers including some NDC Members of Parliament, NDC Women's Organiser, Madam Anita and Alhaji Sumaila noted that the appointment of 88 Ministers and Deputy Ministers of State with many personal assistants to be appointed would be a drain on national resources.

"If one Minister uses five gallons of petrol a day, who would bear the cost?" One of them asked and said until the prices were reduced the ordinary Ghanaian would continue to suffer. They called on the demonstrators to fight for their rights in order not to be cheated.

Some members of the public who expressed their views to the GNA were either satisfied with the demonstration or said it was uncalled for as the fuel price increase was necessitated by higher world price of crude oil and, therefore, the Government was not to be blamed.

An Accountant at the Public Works Department, Mr Phil Ahorsu said the action was in the right direction because money for transportation to the workplace had become a problem not to talk about saving enough to pay school fees. He said the increase of the minimum wage from 11,200 cedis to 13,500 cedis was inadequate since it would not solve the problem.

A taxi driver, Kofi Apeatu simply said: "The demonstration was useless" because if the National Democratic Congress (NDC) had managed the economy well, the NPP Administration would have built on that and the ordinary Ghanaian would not suffer. He said President John Agyekum Kufuor was not a magician to turn the economy round as swiftly as the NDC and its supporters were expecting.

Naa Afi, a Trader at Makola Market, said she hoped it would create the necessary impact to bring prices down. Ms Kate, a Trader said: "I'm okay with the increase and pray it does not go up again until about four years time. But should that happen the consequences would be grave. "Government should try as much as possible to maintain the current price. People are complaining, but they would soon get use to it."

Auntie Felicia, a Civil Servant, urged the Government "to do something" about the minimum wage to enable it to match up with the fuel price increase so that workers would not be overburdened. She said one could not blame the Government for the increase in fuel prices because no government would want to overburden its citizens. She was of the view that even though everyone had the freedom to demonstrate, sometimes such things were not necessary. But Razak Ahmed, who took part in the demonstration, said the Government was insensitive to the plight of Ghanaians. He noted that Government had deceived Ghanaians because they had not fulfilled their campaign promises. "How can we buy petrol at 30,000 cedis while the minimum wage is pegged at 13,500 cedis. This is unacceptable and come next four years, the thumb would decide", he said.

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