Angry members of the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) on Thursday stormed shops owned by Nigerians in Kumasi, the Ashanti Region capital, and locked them up. GUTA members have for some time now waged a war on foreigners doing retail business in the country.
They cite Ghanaian laws to justify their action, insisting that they have been left with no choice than to move into the markets and lock the shops up themselves because the law enforcement agencies fail to do their work.
GUTA says foreign retailers flout section 27 of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) Act 865. That law stipulates that the sale of goods or provision of services in a market, petty trading or hawking or selling of goods in a stall at any place must be reserved for Ghanaians.
Other activities not permitted for non-citizens include:
- Operation of taxi or car hire service in an enterprise that has a fleet of less than twenty-five vehicles
- Operation of a beauty salon or a barbershop
- Printing of recharge scratch cards for the use of subscribers of telecommunication services
- Production of exercise books and other basic stationery
- Retail of finished pharmaceutical products
- Production and retail of sachet water.
GUTA members say this law is being flouted by foreigners, particularly Nigerians, on grounds that the ECOWAS protocol on free movement of goods and persons across the sub-region allows them to trade and do any kind of business in Ghana.
Luv FM’s Asenso Mensah reports that agitated GUTA members on Thursday morning stormed at least five big markets in the Ashanti Region, forced out the foreign retailers and locked their shops.
Foreign traders in Kejetia, Suame Magazine, Adum and Asafo markets were all yanked out of the shops on Thursday, reports Asenso Mensah.
GUTA Public Relations Officer, Albert Mensah Offei, told Joy News that the locking up of retail shops owned by foreigners will soon be extended to other parts of the country.The action by GUTA is the second time this year.
Meanwhile, many say the action by GUTA is retaliation for the Nigerian government’s decision to close its land borders indefinitely. Nigeria says it hopes to cut down on smuggling by closing its borders.
The move has been widely criticised by both regional and international trade associations. GUTA has been among the fiercest critic of the decision by Nigeria to close its borders.