Awaso Mines vandals will face the law — Minister

Awaso Mines vandals will face the law — Minister
Source: Graphic.com
Date: 20-06-2019 Time: 02:06:35:pm
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Life in the mining town of Awaso in the Western North Region has returned to normalcy after two days of violent protests by workers of the Ghana Bauxite Company (GBC).

A joint police-military team was deployed in the town to restore order to allow residents to go about their economic activities without fear.

However, there was a general sense of insecurity at the mines, as the management of the GBC said it had the feeling that the workers could attack again.

No human activity was going on at the mines, except that some of the management staff came to brief the minister on the extent of damage done to company properties.

The mines had been shut down as a result of the violence and management was yet to assess the cost of damage and determine when to resume work.

The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr Kwaku Asomah-Cheremeh, who was in the town to assess the situation, expressed shock over the massive destruction caused to properties of the company.

He described the demonstration that led to the destruction of the properties as illegal, since the demonstrators had failed to comply with the Public Order Act.


He, therefore, asked the security agencies to take immediate steps to crack down on the perpetrators of the violent acts.

"From all indications, the workers who staged this demonstration did not seek clearance from the police to embark on a demonstration, neither did they notify the management of the company of their intended action.

"The demonstration is unlawful and so the demonstrators are criminals who must be dealt with by the law. 

I can assure you that we will go all out to get all of them to face the law," he added.

The minister was accompanied to the mines by a team from the ministry and the Minerals Commission.

Disagreement

The demonstration stemmed from a long-running disagreement between the management of the GBC and the local unionised staff over what the unionised staff described as poor working conditions and paltry salaries.

The enraged workers went on rampage, setting vehicles, residential and office buildings ablaze during the two days of chaos that rocked the company and the larger town.

The management members of the GBC had to run for their lives.

Observation 

When the minister's entourage got to the GBC about 3:30 p.m. yesterday, there were about 10 policemen on the premises protecting properties.

Doors and windows of offices had been shattered and items in the rooms damaged.

The Human Resource Manager's bungalow and the adjoining boys’ quarters were totally burnt
Three cars belonging to the Human Resource Manager and the company were burnt to ashes, while the windscreens of other vehicles were also broken.

Besides, the company's kitchen was damaged, with 18 rice cookers reportedly missing.

The whereabouts of the General Manager of the company were still unknown.

Other management members said they only communicated with him via text messages and could not tell his exact location.

Assurance 

Mr Asomah-Cheremeh said he was shocked at the development, especially when he got information that there had been an ongoing salary negotiation with the workers before the demonstration.

He assured the management of the GBC that security would be beefed up at the company to prevent any further attacks.

He urged the parties in the impasse to use dialogue in resolving the outstanding issues.

Management appeal

The management of the GBC called on the government to take immediate action to bring the perpetrators of the violence to book to restore investor confidence in the country.

The General Manager, Mr J.K. Fang, said the company would remain shut because its management was still in a state of shock and feared for their lives.

He explained that the demonstration and subsequent destruction of properties came as a surprise, especially when the outsourced workers were still at the negotiation table with the company's recruitment agency over improved salaries.

He said management was reviewing pictures and videos it had from the demonstration to identify some of the perpetrators.


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