43 BUSINESSFEATURE Nige­ri­ans’ shops in Ku­masi un­der lock de­spite govt or­der

Weekly Trust - - News - Kate Da Costa, Ac­cra

Over 400 shops be­long­ing to Nige­ri­ans in Suame Mag­a­zine, Adom and other mar­kets in Ku­masi, Ghana have been un­der lock since Au­gust af­ter be­ing ar­bi­trar­ily closed by Ghana­ian traders.

The traders’ de­fi­ance of the gov­ern­ment is even more puz­zling, as the clo­sure is not by the Re­gional Task Force on Re­tail Trade. In spite of the direc­tive by the Min­is­ter of Trade and In­dus­try, Mr. Alan Ky­ere­mateng, that all shops and trad­ing out­lets owned by for­eign­ers be re-opened, the Ku­masi traders have re­mained ob­sti­nate and con­tinue to un­leash pain on their Nige­rian coun­ter­parts.

The Ashanti Re­gional Min­is­ter him­self has not shown demon­stra­ble po­lit­i­cal will to as­suage the pains of the Nige­ri­ans. It was gath­ered that he ini­tially feigned ig­no­rance of the Trade Min­is­ter’s press re­lease when the lead­er­ship of the Nige­rian Union of Traders As­so­ci­a­tions in Ghana (NUTAG) went to di­a­logue with him. He had in­sisted that he would par­ley with GUTA mem­bers af­ter he saw a hard copy of the state­ment and there­after gave an or­der for the re-open­ing of the shops. He not only re­neged on the prom­ise, but frus­trated all at­tempts by NUTAG to fur­ther dis­cuss the mat­ter with him, the Daily Trust learnt.

The cul­ture of si­lence by the Ghana­ian me­dia, civil so­ci­ety, re­li­gious lead­ers and gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials per­haps gives cre­dence to the the­ory of Nige­rian traders that the en­tire show is be­ing or­ches­trated to vic­timise them.

More so, from all in­di­ca­tions, only Nige­ri­ans are be­ing grilled in this lat­est round of clo­sure of shops owned by for­eign­ers in the county.

The Pres­i­dent of the Nige­rian Union of Traders As­so­ci­a­tions in Ghana (NUTAG), Mr. Emeka Nnaji, said in a chat with Daily Trust: “The as­ser­tion that Nige­ri­ans are not tar­geted is just a story be­cause ev­ery other per­son is do­ing busi­ness. They haven’t gone to Sho­prite to close it. They have not closed Mel­com. They have not closed other shops that are owned by for­eign­ers. It is only Nige­rian shops that are closed. Even the Chi­nese who are in the mar­kets are still do­ing their busi­nesses.”

Nnaji as­serted that the clo­sure of the shops was un­jus­ti­fied be­cause the traders to the best of his knowl­edge did not vi­o­late the laws of the land as peo­ple were be­ing made to be­lieve.

“If the shops of those who are not regis­tered are closed, I won’t be go­ing round telling peo­ple to come to help. I can as­sure you that ma­jor­ity of them are up to date in pay­ment of taxes. I can tell you one guy paid 8,000 cedi as tax for one year. I saw the re­ceipt. There were oth­ers who had paid 4,000 and 1,000 cedi. Their shops were locked. So it is not a mat­ter of not pay­ing tax or not pay­ing any­thing,” he said.

There ap­pears to be end yet to the traders’ pains, as in­tim­i­da­tion and ha­rass­ment con­tin­ues, with Nige­rian traders get­ting in­creas­ingly frus­trated by the ac­tions of their hosts.

Daily Trust re­li­ably gath­ered that a Nige­rian trader in Ku­masi com­mit­ted sui­cide a fort­night ago. Ac­cord­ing to one of her col­leagues, it may not be un­con­nected with her tra­vails.

“If she was in her busi­ness, she prob­a­bly would not have taken her life. The hard­ship must have put her in de­pres­sion,” he said.

It was also gath­ered that some Nige­rian traders were sell­ing their as­sets at very low prices. An­other trader told our re­porter that two of his col­leagues sold their shops and re­turned to Nige­ria.

“I know of two Nige­ri­ans who sold their shops for peanuts to Ghana­ians in Ashanti Re­gion. As I talk to you, they have re­turned to Nige­ria. They sold them for peanuts. They knew they were un­der pres­sure. They dared not call a price, it is pa­thetic,” he lamented.

The as­sault on Nige­ri­ans con­tin­ues unchecked. Not a sin­gle day passes with­out an in­ci­dent. On Mon­day, a Nige­rian who was stand­ing in front of his shop was re­port­edly beaten by some Ghana­ian traders.

“Can you be­lieve that th­ese peo­ple would see Nige­ri­ans rid­ing mo­tor­bikes, stop them and col­lect their bikes. In fact, a po­lice­man even con­firmed that. They would mob them and col­lect their bikes,” he said.

“The ac­ri­mony is so in­tense that it has reached a level where some of our traders were given three months evic­tion no­tice. They have been asked to pack their be­long­ings and leave Ashanti Re­gion within three months,” an­other trader said.

The Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral of NUTAG, Mr. Evaris­tus Nwankwo, main­tained that the ag­gres­sion from the Ghana­ians was un­war­ranted. He said GUTA mem­bers had taken the laws into their hands and the gov­ern­ment ap­peared not to have the po­lit­i­cal will to stop them.

He also blamed the me­dia for be­ing ‘silent’ on the cri­sis in Ku­masi.

“I don’t agree with the Trade Min­is­ter that a sec­tion of the me­dia has been ped­dling lies. Rather, I think what has been hap­pen­ing in Ku­masi has been un­der-re­ported by the lo­cal me­dia,” he said. promised to pass their de­mands to the Ghana­ian gov­ern­ment to see how best to ad­dress the is­sue.

The traders had ear­lier protested at the head­quar­ters of the ECOWAS Com­mis­sion in Asokoro, Abuja where NANTS pres­i­dent, Bar­ris­ter Ken Ukaoha, de­scribed the clo­sure of Nige­rian busi­nesses in Ghana as a bad de­vel­op­ment. He urged the com­mis­sion to in­ter­vene within one week and re­solve the mat­ter, say­ing, “Since Ghana is a sig­na­tory to the ECOWAS pro­to­col on free move­ment of goods and ser­vices, there is a need for the com­mis­sion to cau­tion the gov­ern­ment of Ghana.”

“If we can­not ac­com­mo­date each other and live to­gether as Africans and ECOWAS cit­i­zens, then we are bond to con­tin­u­ally frus­trate and waste our young peo­ple along the desert and in the Mediter­ranean Sea en-route Europe,” Ukaoha added.

Stranded Nige­rian traders af­ter their shops were locked at Ku­masi in Ghana

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