Some Nigerians engaged in retail trade in Accra are in the process of resuming full operations following the reopening of their locked up shops after nearly 7 months.
The Ghana Union of Traders of Association, GUTA, locked up the shops in protest against foreigners in retail trade which is unlawful under Ghana’s laws.
The shops were reopened by the Presidential Committee on Trade after the traders provided documents allowing their stay and business activities in the country.
When Citi Business News visited the Tip Toe Lane at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle in Accra, majority of the Nigerian traders who had their shops locked up, were tidying up the shops in preparation towards business activities.
However, the usual brisk activity in the area was lost, with a few shop owners and assistants dusting off the dirt that had accumulated in their shops over the seven months period.
They spoke to Citi Business News about the challenges they have faced in the last 7 months of inactivity.
“Life has been hell, only God protected us. Sometimes we don’t know where our next meal will come from so life hasn’t been easy since then, but we thank God things are getting better” a trader said.
Another said “it was not easy, but we managed to stay alive and that is the ultimate”.
Last week, officials from the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Ghana Revenue Authority, the Ghana Immigration Service and leaders of the Ghana Union of Traders Association who make up the Presidential Committee on Trade, carried out the reopening exercise at the Tiptoe Lane.
In all, the three-day exercise led to the reopening of 120 out of the over 600 locked up shops at Tip Toe Lane and Opera Square in Accra.
Per Section 27 of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) Act 865, foreigners are barred from engaging in retail business in Ghana, as the space is solely reserved for citizens.
The Nigerian traders, who are happy to be back to work, are optimistic business will pick up soon.
“We know things will bounce back within a short period of time” some told Citi Business News.
Meanwhile, the Vice President of the Presidential Committee on Retail Trade, who doubles as the Chairman of GUTA, Joseph Osei Yaw Agyemang, told Citi Business News they may be forced to lock up the shops again if any breaches occur.
“These shops will be locked again, that is certain because they still have not conformed to using the right documents as we speak” he voiced out.