At least 30 Ghanaian-owned shops have been destroyed at Cicle in Accra as a trade row betweeen locals and foreigners escalates.
Scores of angry Ghanaian shop owners at Tiptoe lane, a busy buying and selling enclave at Circle in Accra have threatened their Nigerian counterparts of retaliation.
A trader told Joy News’ Efua Chinery, the demolition began at 5am while he was at home. He abandoned his teeth-brushing routine and rushed to find his shop destroyed and laptops, phones gone.
Another Ghanaian who operators a mobile-money business said he has lost money, iPhones and electronic gadgets. He said the exercise was a shocking interruption of a business he has worked hard to sustain.
Affected shop owners have accused a Nigerian businessmen for masterminding the demolitions. According to them, they have been resisting the building of a story building in the very crowded business area.
A residential property surrrounded by local shops has been leased to two Nigerians – Uche and Emeka who have had it converted into offices and shops.
Myjoyonline’s David Andoh who also visited the scene explained that the renovated business owned by the Nigerian would have to evict the surrounding retailers, some of whom have operated there for about 30 years.
The Tuesday morning demolition has seen a turn on the Ghanaian shops, as some suspected Nigerians broke down shops in the dawn attack, a move they claim is influenced by the Nigerian businessman.
“They want to evict us and allow Nigerians to take over our land. This is unlawful,” he lamented.
Some Nigerian shops fearing attacks have closed up shop for the day. One shop owner whose stall was attacked said many Ghanaians entered and began breaking things down.
“We asked them what is the problem?…they did not say anything,” he said. His shop attendant was injured.
Ghanaian retail traders have been angry at the increasing involvement of foreigners into the retail sector despite laws that forbid their participation.
Per the GIPC law Section 27(1) of the GIPC Act, 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, hawking or selling of goods in a stall at any place.
Government gave a 27 June 2018 deadline for all foreigners engaged in retail to stop or face the law.
Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) sensing victory after a protracted push for law enforcement were dealt a last-minute blow after government backed down on the threat.
The Ministry of Trade and Industry explained, they needed to do more sensitization and education before enforcing the law.
Ghanaian retailers have since vented their disappointment on their foreign competitors while warning that the government will pay a political price.
Hundreds of Nigerian spare parts dealers in Suame, a business hub in the Ashanti region, sought safety inside the area’s police station after Ghanaian competitors attacked them.
The August 2 attack in Kumasi is still being investigated. In Accra, an August 14 demolition exercise appears to have undertones of the retail row.
Henry Quartey who is MP for the Ayawaso Central constituency, which includes Tiptoe lane, visited the area and has offered his sympathy to the affected.
He has said the demolition and surrounding issues will be investigated.