Graduates of the School of Hygiene who decided to picket the Ministry of Sanitation over unpaid allowances were dispersed by the police Monday.
The unhappy students threatened to return and to use whatever means at their disposal to have their demands met.
The aggrieved students went to the ministry with mattresses, food items, and cooking utensils to camp but met heavy police presence on Monday, August 17.
“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 to us? They just called 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”.
The items the students brought were sent to the Accra Regional Police Command headquarters at Adjabeng, Accra.
The police told Citi News that they used non-lethal weapons to scatter 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”, ACP Kofi Boakye, Director of Operations, Accra Regional Police Command, said.
The government had promised these students an allowance of GH¢400 each for their three-year stay in school but has so far failed to pay any of the 1348 students. It is not yet clear whether the GH¢400 is a monthly or annual figure.
“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 [of Sanitation] has failed to restore the School of Hygiene allowances”, the 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 stated.
The Ministry of Sanitation owes each student an accumulated amount of GH¢ 12,000 according to the group. This is contrary to the claims that the ministry owes the students a total amount of GH¢9,096,000.
Micheal Yaw Gyato, Deputy Minister for Sanitation, held a closed-door meeting with the leadership but the students left fuming.
The leaders of the students complained that authorities were not forthcoming with information.
“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.