Youth in Agric beneficiaries blocked from picketing over delayed allowances

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Armed Police and military officers have taken over the Ashanti Regional office of the Forestry Commission after some beneficiaries of the Youth in Agriculture and Afforestation programme attempted marching to the premises to present their grievances on Tuesday.

The Armed officers led by the Deputy Ashanti Regional Police Commander ordered the angry beneficiaries to disperse from the converging point.

According to the police, the beneficiaries did not notify the command before embarking on the exercise.

DCOP Fred Adu Anim ordered the beneficiaries to disperse or the police will forcefully disperse them.

The beneficiaries, who converged about 100 meters away from the Forestry Commission office were prevented by the police from entering the premises.

The main entrance was also locked amidst the presence of armed police officers.

The beneficiaries say they were not demonstrating, but were there to present their grievances to management.

Some of beneficiaries who spoke to Citi News said life has become unbearable for them.

“We’ve been working for close to six months without any salary or allowance. Are we not human beings? We completed universities, we were issued appointment letters, we went to farms and picked cutlasses to work. We are here to tell them to pay us our salaries. That’s all,” one of the aggrieved beneficiaries said.

“The police say we didn’t write to them. We are not on demonstration so we don’t need any permit from the police. If you are a staff in a company and you are going to management to pay you, do you need to write to them? It is very disheartening. What Ghana police is doing is not fair,” another one added.

The beneficiaries have since dispersed from the area.

Meanwhile, the Ashanti Regional Manager of the Forestry Commission, Thomas Okyere, says he is surprised at the action of the beneficiaries.

“Nobody informed us. But we had the information that they are planning for this demonstration. And so we also had to prepare. We have government property here so we can’t allow them to come and maybe vandalize anything.”

Thomas Okyere called for calm as efforts are being made to pay them.

“We’ve paid them July, it’s left with August, September, October, November. It’s not even up to five. It’s four. I can’t say for sure when they will be paid, because we have done our part here. We normally collate the necessary sheets, forward them to Accra, and these people are paid through e-zwich accounts. Even if they are paid I wouldn’t know unless they tell us. I’m actually surprised at their action because we are always in contact with them. We have our own supervisors who normally visit them at the various sites and talk to them. When government owes you it will definitely pay.”

Be patient, we’ll pay you – Sir John tells Youth in Afforestation

In October, Chief Executive Officer of the National Forestry Commission, Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, called on beneficiaries of the government’s Youth in Afforestation Program to exercise patience over their delayed allowances.

He said his outfit was aware of the delay in the payment of allowances, but was working to have the monies paid as soon as possible.

This was after beneficiaries of the program in the Eastern Region threatened to embark on series of demonstrations citing the non-payment of their allowance and poor working conditions.

Prior to that, several others in the Greater Accra and other areas, had also protested the non-payment of allowances.

Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, popularly known as Sir John, in a Citi News interview said the some of the beneficiaries have enrolled on other government youth intervention programs and may be receiving double allowances, and so his outfit has expunged their names from the commission’s register.

He said beneficiaries with the right records have been paid up to July, and his outfit is working hard to get funds to pay the August and September allowances.

By: Hafiz Tijani | citinewsroom.com | Ghana