Ghana: Meningitis deaths, reduction in power tariff reported in Ghana

Accra, Ghana (PANA) – The Ghanaian media this week reported the rising deaths from the outbreak of pneumococcal meningitis and the request of a British fugitive to be repatriated to stand trial for his alleged murder of his partner and two children.

The media also reported a reduction in electricity tariffs after negotiations between the government and labour unions, which staged demonstrations across the country last week to pressurise the government to reduce electricity and water tariffs announced by the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC), and scrap the new petroleum tax passed by Parliament that increased prices of petroleum products by up to 28 per cent.

“Meningitis claims 50 lives,” was the headline of the Graphic on Friday on the meningitis outbreak. The story said 50 people have so far died from the outbreak of pneumococcal meningitis in the West African country.

It quoted the minister of Health Alex Segbefia, as saying that so far 246 cases had been reported in the Brong Ahafo, Ashanti, Upper West and Upper East regions.

The newspaper said in view of the increasing rate of deaths, the World Health Organisation (WHO) had stepped in to help the Ghanaian health authorities to contain the outbreak.

The health authorities are advising members of the public to avoid overcrowding and limit their exposure to infected people.

The Graphic in an earlier story quoted the Deputy Minister of Health, Dr Victor Asare Bampoe, as saying the present strain of the disease “is not the normal one which the country is used to, but it is being caused by a bacteria known as streptococcal pneumonia”.

Fortunately, he said, the new strain, although more deadly, did not spread as fast as cerebro spinal meningitis (CSM).

The Graphic, in a story with the headline, “Govt, labour reach deal on tariff hikes” reported that the government had agreed to provide relief for lifeline consumers of electricity and the vulnerable with effect from 1 February, following a deal with organised labour over the increases in utility tariffs.

The agreement which is expected to reduce tension on the labour front, provides that customers within the lowest consumption bracket will see 45-50 per cent increase instead of 59.2 per cent announced by the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC.)

The government and labour also agreed to continue discussions on the 67 per cent increase on water tariffs.

However, the energy sector levy, which has seen fuel prices go up by 28 per cent, will stay while labour continues with discussions on the subject.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) said: “As agreed in 2013, the stakeholders have renewed their commitment to the implementation of the automatic tariff adjustment to avoid the large increases associated with non-implementation and its effect on incomes of households and businesses.”

The state-owned Ghanaian Times in its story with the headline, “Govt, labour strike deal,” also said the government had provided relief to cushion workers against the hikes in electricity tariffs.

Haruna Iddrisu, Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, said that the parties were ready to continue to engage on the outstanding issue on water tariff, and thanked Organised Labour for the cooperation during the deliberations.

Kofi Asamoah, secretary general of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), welcomed the reliefs provided by the government on the electricity tariff, and promised that they would continue to engage the government in further deliberations of the outstanding issues.

“Take me back to Britain to face trial – Fugitive” was the headline of the Graphic on a British national, who allegedly murdered his girlfriend and their two sons, and fled to Ghana.

The Graphic said he voluntarily subjected himself to repatriation to the United Kingdom (UK) to face the law when he appeared before the High Court in Accra on 26 January.

The suspect, Arthur Simpson-Kent, is alleged to have killed his girlfriend, a former actress of a popular British television programme, EastEnders, Sian Blake, and their two sons and bolted to Ghana. One of his parents is a Ghanaian and he holds a Ghanaian passport.

Simpson-Kent said he was now ready to face trial in the UK.

His decision was announced through his lawyer, Mr Justice Srem-Sai, at the Accra High Court after state prosecutors had announced they had received a formal request from the UK for his extradition.
-0- PANA MA/VAO 30Jan2016

30 january 2016 07:23:33

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