The Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA), has warned of heightened tensions in Ghana’s retail market if the government does not intervene in the protracted feud against Nigerian traders.
The warning was made when the Association’s president, met with members and executives after the arrest and release of some traders who had earlier closed shops belonging to Nigerian retailers.
“We can’t sit and watch these Nigerian retailers break our retail laws. Government has been disappointing in dealing with this issue. We have been civil all this while but we are running out of patience,” President of GUTA, Dr Joseph Obeng warned.
Some Ghanaian traders were arrested earlier by the Accra Regional Police for closing down some shops belonging to Nigerian retail traders.
The traders, numbering 20, were later released. Co-chair of the Ghana Spare Parts Dealers, Clement Boateng described the arrests as “a slap on the face of Ghanaian traders” who are bent on ensuring laws regarding retail trade are upheld.
So far, the government has been criticized for being lenient with existing retail laws which instructs that retail trading must be the sole preserve of Ghanaians.
Speaking to JoyBusinessCEO of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC), Yoofi Grant said steps been taken to deal with the feud. According to him, “talks with the Nigerian High Commission are underway to ensure sanity in the retail space.” Yoofi Grant argues that a lot is being done to meet the demands of GUTA hence the need for calm.
The law prohibits non-Ghanaians from engaging in retail trade in the jurisdiction. Governments have, however, found it difficult to implement the law, causing the traders to go rogue on a seasonal basis.
Many, including foreign nationals, have argued the law is contrary to the ECOWAS provision on the free movement of goods and persons across the sub-region. The Ghana Union of Traders Association backed the action by the Kumasi traders.
Section 27(1) of the Ghana Investments Trade and Promotion Centre (GIPC) Act 865 states “a person who is not a citizen or enterprise which is not wholly owned by citizens shall not invest or participate in sale of goods or provision of service in a market, petty trading or hawking or selling of goods in a store.” But this provision, according to the Ghanaian traders, is being blatantly flouted by the Nigerians.