Some graduates of the School of Hygiene who were picketing at the Ministry of Sanitation over unpaid allowances have been moved out of the premises by the police.
They, however, say, there will return to the premises threatening to use whatever means to have their demands met.
There was heavy police presence at the Ministry on Monday, August 17, 2020, following the insistence of the agitated graduates not to vacate the premises until they receive clearance for their unpaid allowances leading to a confrontation between the two.
The students, who brought along mattresses, food items and cooking utensils, set up camp at the Ministry as early as 3:00 am.
They accused the police of physically assaulting them.
“The police started beating us after the Chief Director asked them to move us from the Ministry. They are just beating us mercilessly. Is that how we live in this country just because we are demanding what is due us? They just call the police to beat us up”, one of them said.
Another student said, “Akufo Addo promised us the allowance and now they are beating us”.
But Citi News‘ Philip Nii Lartey who was at the scene later in the evening reported that the police, after dispersing the crowd had packed their items into vehicles and conveyed them to the Greater Accra Regional Police Command.
Police officials told Citi News they had to use non-lethal weapons to disperse the students.
“In this COVID-19 season, demonstrations and protests are not allowed under the Executive Instrument and here we are, they came up in their numbers threatening and massing up and it will be wrong if the police allow them to sleep here. We used a soft-hand approach talking to them to leave but some insisted that they will cause distractions at the Ministry and being protectors of state and individuals, we will not sit down for this gross violation. Therefore, we brought armless Police Personnel to use non-lethal equipment to drive them out and we have succeeded in doing that. Under my watch, no one was tortured”, Director of Operations, Accra Regional Police Command, ACP Kofi Boakye said.
These trainee students were promised an allowance of GHS400 each for the three years they were in school but the government has so far failed to pay any of the 1,348 students.
“The Ministry of Sanitation has failed to pay the allowances. The President promised to give us preferential treatment by transferring us from the Ministry of Health to the Ministry of Sanitation but three years down the line, the Ministry has failed to restore the School of Hygiene allowances”, leader of the group said.
“We are here for our allowance and we are not leaving until we get our money. We are going to sleep there even if it takes a month, we will be here”, one other student lamented.
As it stands now, each student is owed an accumulated amount of GHS 12,000 according to the group, contrary to the Ministry’s claim of owing the students a total amount of GHS 9,096,000.
A closed-door meeting led by the Deputy Minister for Sanitation, Micheal Yaw Gyato, left students fuming.
The leaders of the students complain that authorities were not forthcoming.
“They want to form a committee and they want us to be part of the committee to speed up the process to pay the money. But we have been hearing this story for years”, the leaders complained.