Tension at Tiptoe Lane over attempts to close foreign-owned retail shops

There is tension at Tiptoe Lane near the Kwame Nkrumah Interchange in Accra following a decision to close down retail shops owned by foreigners.

The Presidential Committee on Retail Trade under the Ministry of Trade and Industry decided to take on foreign-owned shops in Accra from today, August 13, 2020.

The taskforce undertaking the exercise says its action is in line with recommendations from the committee probing the impasse between Ghanaian traders and the foreign counterpart.

According to the retailers, the closure has become necessary following the refusal of the retailers to regularise their documents as directed by the government.

But in a confrontation with the taskforce, some of the retailers stated that they had 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,” he exclaimed.

“They gave us an assessment from the Immigration. We went there with them. Some people have submitted their documents to the Immigration. Customs didn’t ask us to do anything. All the institutions that have asked us to do something, we have complied. I don’t know why they are locking the shops. They were supposed to come today to check the compliance. When they came, they didn’t ask us any questions. They just started locking the shops,” he lamented.

Security officers aiding the taskforce have been compelled to use force as the foreign retailers continue to resist the closure of their shops.

The Presidential Committee on Retail Trade under the Ministry of Trade and Industry had given earlier notice of the closure of shops before today’s exercise.

In an interview with Citi News, Public Relations Officer for the Ministry, Prince Boakye-Boateng said the shops will be closed due to the failure of some foreigners to adhere to the directives on retail trade in Ghana.

“For Circle, we will be locking of shops because they have been given enough notice already. The shops were initially locked, we asked that they open for a proper assessment by the Ministry and for that matter, the Committee. So 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.”

Trade war

Over the years, there have been trading wars between Ghanaian traders and their foreign counterparts, especially Nigerian traders over the involvement of the latter in retail business in Ghanaian markets.

This has led to the closure of some Nigerian shops in Accra and Kumasi.

Clashes between Ghanaian and Nigerian traders have also led to the destruction of some properties of Nigerian traders.

The government has given indications that it is trying to approach the situation with tact to ensure that the relationship between the two countries is not marred but the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) believes that the government is not serving their interest.

GUTA has since been urged to sue the government over the non-enforcement of laws that bar foreigners from operating in Ghana’s retail space.

Meanwhile, foreign retailers want the government of Ghana to protect its members from threats and intimidation from GUTA.

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