Foreigners operating illegally in Ghana’s retail industry on Tuesday took cover when the inter-agency taskforce thronged the Central Business District.
Immediately, the taskforce and a team of officials from the Ministry of Trade and Industry, led by K. Ntim Atuahene, Director of Domestic Trade and Distribution, visited the first shop, news about their activities spread like a ferocious fire through out the area.
The whereabouts of the owners of the other shops could not be traced.
Though the task force visited the shops to deliver letters to the foreigners who were flouting the nation’s retail laws, they locked their shops.
The warning letter, signed by Mr K.N. Atuahene, Director in charge of Domestic Trade and Distribution read “it has come to the notice of the taskforce that you are engaged in trading activities in the market place in spite of the fact that enough warning has been issued by the task force to all non-Ghanaian trading in the market place.
“Your activities contravene Section 18 of GIPC law 1994 (Act 478) please take note that your continued operations from the market will no more be countenanced and that the law will be applied to eject you from the market.
“If you have any difficulties please do not hesitate to contact the undersigned at the Ministry of Trade and Industry.”
Public notices asking such shop owners to relocate before October 16 which were pasted on the doors of the shops by the taskforce over five months ago failed to persuade them to vacate the markets.
Some Ghanaians claimed they had taken over from the foreigners. However, further checks by the taskforce showed that there was no documentation to prove the claims of the Ghanaians.
Owners of Fullmore Ghana Limited took to their heels to avoid members of the task force.
A shop attendant, Victoria Sogah, who could not stop laughing as she saw her employers run helter-skelter, received the letter on their behalf and promised to deliver it to them.
At another shop, records of the taskforce showed it was owned by a Chinese, but one George Gbobitey claimed he had taken over the business.
He failed to provide documents such as transfer deeds and agreement pact.
While the operation was on going, some Ghanaian retailers, who patronize items from the Chinese shops as well as people who were in town to shop, expressed mixed reactions.
Gorgegina Danso, a trader, in an interview with CITY & BUSINESS GUIDE, said she backed government’s decision to close down the shops and said “it would help us to do genuine business in line with our laws.”
However, Desmond Damtey, who is unemployed, was of the view that it was not necessary to eject the non-Ghanaian traders but review the laws to enable them operate freely.
The taskforce, set up by the Trade Ministry to monitor the activities of non-Ghanaians engaged in retail and petty trading, suspended its activities to give foreign traders the opportunity to vacate the open markets which are reserved for Ghanaians.
The task force would go to the market places where some non-Ghanaian operators have been identified and subsequently close their shops.
It would be recalled that about a fortnight ago members of the Ghana Union Traders Association (GUTA) staged a demonstration and criticized the task force for the delay in ejecting foreigner traders.
Data gathered by the task force as part of the exercise identified 1,070 shops operated by non–Ghanaians across the country.
Ben Yeboah, a representative of GUTA in the interagency taskforce, said the activities of the foreigners were pushing Ghanaians out of business.
He however called on government, through the ministry, to intensify the campaign to educate the public about laws governing the retail business.
By Emelia Ennin Abbey