The Taskforce of the Ministry of Trade and the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) enforcing the ban on foreigners from engaging in retail trade in the country has been urged to exercise restraint in its operations.
Speaking to the Ghana News Agency in Accra, Chief Godwin Uche Anyaogu, Vice Chairman of the Second hand Clothing Association at Ayalolo in Accra, noted that the exercise to close the shops of aliens in the retail trade in markets started some years ago.
He said at that time, the shops of some members of the Association were closed and after meetings with the then Minister of Trade, it came out that the exercise was aimed at foreigners such as Chinese, Indians and Lebanese, who had invaded the retail trade and not nationals of the Economic Commission of West African States (ECOWAS) member countries.
The Vice Chairman of the Association said members of the Association mainly Nigerians were asked to register, pay their taxes as any other trader, fix their sign boards and operate, which they complied.
Chief Uche Anyaogu said last week the executives of the Association had information that the Ministry of Trade and GUTA task force operating in the Kaneshis area had closed some shops of its members.
He said the Task force accompanied by armed Police Officers then moved to the Kantamanto area and closed some shops belonging to its members, adding that, the Task force were not ready to listen to any explanation neither were they ready to inspect their documents.
Chief Uche Anyaogu explained further that most of the members of the Association had been resident in Ghana for a long time while some were even married to Ghanaians with children and owned immovable property in the country.
Mr Philip Okereke Agwara, Chairman of the Association, said the law banned foreigners from engaging in retail trade and operating in the markets and pointed out that members of the Association were importers and wholesalers and not retailers, adding that, their warehouses were also not located in markets but at Ayalolo, a suburb of Accra .
He stated that many Ghanaians would be affected by the activities of the Taskforce since citizens of the country retailed the goods they imported and stocked at the Kantamanto market and elsewhere.
Mr Okereke pledged the willingness of members of the Association to abide by the laws of Ghana to ensure the advancement of the country as nationals of ECOWAS, which guaranteed the freedom of movement of persons, goods and services for nationals of member states with the aim of creating a West African Common Market.
Mr Jerry John Mottey, Chairman of the Kantamanto Branch of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) pointed out that members of the Association gave employment to a lot of Ghanaians and that before the operation of the Taskforce in the area they should have dialogued with the executives of the Association since it was also an affiliate of GUTA.
He said the Taskforce should not create the impression that Nigerians were not accepted in Ghana and apologised to the Executive of the Association and urged that a solution be found to the current impasse.