Ghana: Looming strikes, conflict between farmers and herdsmen reported in Ghana

Accra, Ghana (PANA) – Looming strikes by drivers and traders, and conflict between farmers and Fulani herdsmen in the Ashanti Region were some of the stories highlighted by the media in Ghana this week.

Commercial drivers are threatening to strike over hikes in insurance cover for their vehicles while traders are protesting against taxes, including the ECOWAS Common External Tariffs.

The state-owned Ghanaian Times reported that two private sector operators were threatening strikes over increases in taxes affecting them

It said while transport owners were protesting over a 500 per cent increase in insurance premiums, the Ghana Union of Traders’ Associations (GUTA) was demanding a review of recent tax increases which, they claimed, had led to the collapse of their businesses.

The newspaper said transport owners had declared a nationwide strike from Monday to protest the “outrageous” increase in insurance premiums.

It said commercial drivers maintained they would not work if the decision was not reversed.

The Ghana Insurance Association (GIA) last June proposed an 800 per cent increase in motor insurance premiums, but following protest from the transport unions, it was reduced to 400 per cent.

The commercial drivers, however, alleged that the GIA was scheming to increase third party insurance by 500 per cent.

The Times said for its part, traders had given the government two weeks to review the tax increases, saying failure to do that would compel them to close down shops.

Addressing a news conference in Accra, GUTA president George K. Ofori said the taxes were adversely affecting businesses in the country, regarding import and trading.

“The business community in Ghana, especially, those in the informal sector, have been calling on the government to look into the excessive tax regimes that are overburdening the already exhausted members of the trading community, but this has not been heeded to.”

On the implementation of the ECOWAS Common External Tariffs, which commenced on 1 February this year, GUTA appealed to the Customs Division of Ghana Revenue Authority to suspend it in the meantime for proper consultation with traders and other relevant stakeholders to build consensus for a smooth take-off.

The state-owned Graphic newspaper had the headline, “2 groups raise red flags over high taxes, levies.”

It said the public agitation against hikes in tariffs, levies and taxes seemed not to end, as two groups had raised red flags and threatened various protests if the government did not review the current tax regime.

While members of the GUTA had threatened various forms of action in two weeks if the government did not review taxes that they said were crippling their businesses, road transport operators warned they would embark on a nationwide strike from 8 February, to protest against a 500 per cent increase in insurance premium.

Executives of GUTA, with the Ghana Institution of Freight Forwarders (GIFF), spoke about “the excessiveness” of the government’s tax regime, saying some of them were “imposed without the slightest regard for the views and plight of all stakeholders”.

They said the ECOWAS Common External Tariffs had to be suspended to allow for proper consultation.

The headline of the Graphic on the congress of the small centre-left Convention People’s Party (CPP) to elect their presidential candidate for the 2016 election read, “Drama at CPP congress”.

It said drama unfolded at the CPP congress last weekend when Ivor Kobina Greenstreet stunned bookmakers with a landslide win over his three other contestants.

It said prior to the congress, rumour was rife that it was going to be easy for the former chairperson and daughter of Ghana’s first president, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, Ms Samia Yaba Nkrumah. Mr Greenstreet was considered an underdog due to his disability.

The newspaper said some leading members of the party - Mr Bright Akwetey and Ms Nkrumah, as well as Professor Agyemang Badu Akosa - had, however, descended heavily on the newly-elected candidate “for using money to influence delegates”.

They claimed that money exchanged hands at Saturday’s congress that elected Mr Greenstreet. He has described the claims as “untrue” and “unfortunate”.

The Graphic, reporting the conflict between Fulani herdsmen and farmers, under the headline, “Fulani herdsmen in trouble as police-soldiers move to flush them out of Agogo”, said security personnel had been deployed to Asante Akyem in the Ashanti Region to flush out nomadic Fulani herdsmen following increased tension between residents of the area and the herdsmen.

The newspaper said the deployment by the Ashanti Regional Security Council (REGSEC) was to prevent the already tense relationship between the residents and the herdsmen from escalating into violence. There have been casualties on both sides.

It said the tension had also resulted in the movement of some Fulani herdsmen from Agogo in the Ashanti Region to Begoro in the Fanteakwa District in the Eastern Region following demands by the youth of Agogo that the nomads should leave.

The Ashanti REGSEC blamed the recent violent clashes, with some resulting in deaths, on inflammatory statements made by leading members of the area.

The residents have said the cattle had been destroying their farms while the herdsmen had been causing a lot of havoc, including raping of women.
-0- PANA MA/AR 6Feb2016

06 février 2016 07:06:04

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