Task force closes foreign unlicensed retail shops

The public relations officer at the Ministry of Trade says foreigners in the spare parts retail business who do not have the necessary documents have been served with eviction notices

The government task force on retail trade this week commenced shutting down foreign-owned automobile spare parts shops without licences in the Tiptoe Lane area of Circle, Accra. The team, made up of police and military personnel, has closed about 50 shops since moving into the trade zone.

The exercise angered some foreign retailers, who said they were being treated unfairly and argued that they are from ECOWAS member states.

Prince Boakye-Boateng, public relations officer of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, said the committee has already served notice to quit to foreigners involved in the retail trade who do not hold the necessary licences.

“The shops were initially locked. We asked that they open for a proper assessment by the ministry and, for that matter, the committee.

“Enough notice has been given already, so, as we get to Circle, it is about the locking up of shops and not about assessment as done at Abossey Okai.”

Tension at Tiptoe Lane

The eviction exercise was strongly opposed after the task force handling the closure of the shops was dragged into a confrontation.

Scores of foreign traders kicked against the closure of their shops, leading to heated exchanges. Some of the retailers said they did not understand the decision, insisting they had already taken steps to regularise their documents.

“They haven’t given any reason why they are locking these shops. They said the Minister of Trade and Industry asked them to come there without a reason.

“Meanwhile, we’ve complied with all they’ve told us to do. Why would they lock the shops? Why can’t they verify if we’ve complied or not? Why are they only interested in locking the shops? They should check our documents.”

Brewing trade war

Ghanaian retailers, especially those in the spare parts business, have been on a collision course with foreigners who are also involved in retail.

Some weeks ago, tension rose in some markets in Accra and Kumasi which ended with shops belonging to foreigners being closed.

Clashes between Ghanaian and Nigerian traders have also led to the destruction of property belonging to the Nigerians.

Leaders of the Ghana Union of Traders’ Associations (GUTA) recently threatened to take matters into their own hands if the government did not stop foreigners from engaging in the spare parts retail trade.

GUTA said although it is illegal, weak institutions and poor law enforcement in Ghana have allowed foreigners to infiltrate the system.

E A Alanore

* Asaase Radio 99.5 – tune in or log on to broadcasts online.

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