The nation’s premier long-distance transport company, Intercity STC, has suspended operations indefinitely following an attack on the firm’s terminal in Ho on Monday (28 September).
Richard Ahiafor, the Ho station manager for STC, who made the announcement, said the security agencies have launched an investigation into the incident.
The attackers, who are believed to be members of the Western Togoland group, held a private security guard and drivers of the company hostage, torched at least one minibus and fired warning shots before fleeing the scene.
A security official with Intercity STC narrated his ordeal to Asaase Radio’s Volta regional correspondent, Lambert Attivor, after escaping to report the incident at the nearest police station in Ho.
“At about 2.15 am, I was sitting on a table when I saw a guy approaching from the gate with a gun. When he got to me I asked him his mission but he ordered me to keep mute and lie prostrate, else he would shoot. I then noticed another was near one of the buses and he set the bus ablaze,’’ the security man said.
“After that, the one who was with me took to his heels and scaled the fence wall. I also then got up and ran to the police station [about 500 metres away] to report the incident.”
Prosper Pi-Bansah, the municipal chief executive for Ho, says they were taken unawares by the attack on the STC transport terminal.
The MCE said there have been military patrols in the area since last week, which has prevented the attackers from operating on the blind side of the security forces.
However, he offered assurances that law-enforcement officials have beefed up security in the municipality to safeguard residents’ lives and property.
The STC terminal is about 30 metres away from the palace of the Asogli Traditional Area, where Togbe Afede is paramount chief.
Monday’s attack has heightened fears among residents of the Volta Region who awoke to news of an insurgency last Friday by elements of the Western Togoland secessionist movement looking to further their agenda for an independent state in the region.
Meanwhile, the police have confirmed they have commenced investigations into the latest disturbance in the Volta Region.
A statement from the service said: ‘‘Police is investigating [sic] the allegation that at about 02:00am today, four armed men stormed the Ho STC yard demanding the keys to all the vehicles parked and set two of the minibuses ablaze when the drivers did not produce the keys. The arrival of police and fire service personnel saved the situation.
“Preliminary investigation shows there were 11 vehicles parked at the time of the incident. One bus was completely burnt and another slightly burnt. A flag of the group which calls itself ‘Western Togoland’ was found at the scene.”
The police have since asked residents of Ho Municipality to volunteer information to the security agencies and remain calm.
By Fred Dzakpata