Commercial drivers, workers demo over high fuel prices

Some of the drivers holding inscribed placards

Some of the drivers holding inscribed placards

Scores of commercial drivers and various workers unions hit the street of Accra yesterday to demonstrate against persistent increases in prices of petroleum products.

Clad in red attires and scarves, the protestors who were guided by a huge number of police personnel, converged on the Obra Spot at the Kwame Nkrumah Interchange and marched through the Central Business District to the Art Centre on the Accra High Street.

They carried placards with various inscriptions such as; “This is not what you Promised us”, “Kill the Killer Taxes”, “Nana Adaadaa Yen”, which means “Nana Lied to us”, “Mr President, Te So ooo Tom”, meaning “Mr President, reduce the prices” among others.

After about two hours, the protesters dispersed at the Art Centre with the indication that the petition would be presented to the Ministries of Finance, Energy and Transport as well as Parliament later yesterday.

The demonstration was organised by the Chamber of Petroleum Consumers (COPEC) with support from the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (ICU) to pressurise government to reduce taxes on petroleum products.

Mr Duncan Amoah, Executive Director, COPEC, in an interview with Ghanaian Times, called on government to quit giving excuses over recent hikes in prices of petroleum products and reduce petroleum taxes to ensure reduction and stability in prices.

“We are paying close to US$5 to get petrol into a car tank, which is unhelpful. We know that government introduced windfall taxes to get more revenues at the time the world market prices had dropped so low to be able to cushion the world market prices that had gone down,” he noted.

According to Mr Amoah, it was unfortunate that those taxes were still in place when the situation and outlook was different from five months ago.

“Ghana is selling petrol above GH¢20 and it is still going up, it cannot be sustained. We need some reduction and stability to help in planning for petroleum products expenses for Ghanaians,” he added.

Although the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) has pursued some interventions to ensure stability, the Executive Director said it had rather led to hardship for petroleum consumers.

Some of the protestors accused government of failing to fulfill its promises to remove “nuisance taxes” that slowed business growth and caused “uneasiness in the pockets of Ghanaians”.

Kwame Mbir, 35, who came from Suhum in the Eastern Region to join the protest, said “President Nana Akufo- Addo promised that when he comes, things will be better than the erstwhile administration. I am here to join all those gathered here to remind and plead with him to review the prices downwards for us.”

Meanwhile, the NPA in a statement issued by the Corporate Affairs Division in Accra yesterday said the demonstration was not justified in view of the many interventions made time and again by way of price stabilisation over the past three months.

It said the recent hikes in petroleum prices in the country were as a result of corresponding rise on the international market, stating that “for instance, the prices of petrol and diesel on the international market have increased cumulatively by 17 per cent and 19 per cent respectively since November 2017.”

The statement urged interested groups to seek clarification on the current state of petroleum product prices “to ensure that the public was not misled by persons motivated by reasons other than those of national interest.”

 

By Claude Nyarko Adams

 

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