Without doubt, the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) and foreign retailers in the country are on a collision course which must be halted before it escalates in open confrontation.
Members of GUTA have vowed to prevent foreign retailers from carrying out their trading activities, particularly Kumasi and have gone ahead and closed down some shops in protest over the invasion of foreigners in the retails business.
This is not the first time that members of GUTA are up in arms against the foreign retailers, particularly Nigerians and Chinese. The association has on numerous occasions taken up the fight to their foreign counterparts quoting the Ghana Investment Promotion Council (GIPC), Law (Act 865, to support their position.
According to section 27 of the GIPC Act 865, “A person who is not a citizen or an enterprise which is not wholly owned by a citizen, shall not invest or participate in 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,”
Based on the law, GUTA members have since last Wednesday been posting the law on the shops of those they identify as foreigners in the retail market in Kumasi. The traders have also been prevented from opening their shops for business.
According to the Ashanti Regional Chairman of GUTA “We are not going to attack anyone, nor intimidate or harass anyone. We are only reminding them of the law that they should not engage in retail businesses in the country.”
He recounted that they started the agitation against foreign retailers about 20 years ago and said, no government was ready to listen to their concerns, and added that “we want a quick resolution because this problem has the potential of causing upheaval in the sub-region.”
Although the Ghanaian Times sympathises with the GUTA and supports its position that a lasting solution be found to their concerns, we are not in favour of their willful choice of locking up the shops of the foreigners and demanding that they do not to do business in the market.
As rightly noted by the Ashanti Regional chairman, the impasse has the potential of igniting a confrontation among the traders which no one wants because the end result is unknown and may not be in anyone’s interest.
Our appeal to GUTA is for them to continue to pursue the path of dialogue with the government and not lock up the shops of the foreigners by themselves.
We truly share in their frustration and understand how they would be feeling after fighting for the last 20 years to restore order in the retail market.
We call on the government to reactivate the dialogue on this matter with members of GUTA so that they would cease the lock-up and sit at the table to discuss the issue and find a lasting solution to it.
We are hopeful that the government would cease the opportunity and move swiftly to resolve the matter once and for all.