The Ashanti Regional Police Command has deployed personnel to the Suame Magazine Industrial Enclave in Kumasi to provide protection for Nigerian spare parts dealers who operate in the area.
This follows the closure of shops operated by Nigerians after indigenous Ghanaian spare parts dealers in the enclave protested against the continuous operation of foreigners in the retail trade.
About 50 shops belonging to Nigerian spare parts dealers were locked up by agitated Ghanaians who said they would not sit down for foreigners to flout the laws governing retail marketing in Ghana.
But, after separate meetings with the Nigerian traders and the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) in Kumasi on Monday and yesterday, the Ashanti Regional Police Command assured the Nigerians that the police would give them protection.
The Ashanti Regional Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Ghana Police Service, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Mr Godwin Ahianyo, asked the Nigerians to reopen their shops for business today, assuring them that “there is no cause for alarm”.
He said plainclothes policemen were on the ground to monitor the situation to ensure the safety of the business community.
ASP Ahianyo cautioned members of GUTA against taking the law into their own hands.
He said there was a ministerial task force in charge of the matter and that any grievances should be channelled to it for redress.
According to him, all residents of the region, irrespective of their nationality, “are to be protected by the police and we will ensure that they are not harmed and their properties also protected”.
He said there was an agreement between the two parties that the Nigerians should go back to their shops and do their business.
The indigenous spare parts dealers last Monday protested against the operations of the foreigners and mounted a surveillance team to monitor and deal with Nigerians who tried to reopen their shops.
The Ashanti Regional Financial Secretary of GUTA, Mr Maxwell Bamfo, told the Daily Graphic that much as the association did not sanction the action, it was good enough to send signals to the appropriate authorities to implement the laws governing retail trade in the country.
Per the law, retail trade is reserved for Ghanaians, but, over the years, the law has been flouted with impunity, with GUTA fighting hard to protect Ghanaian interests.
The Suame traders alleged that beyond flouting the law, the Nigerians traded in sub-standard spare parts, making their wares comparatively cheaper and thereby attracting more customers.
Mr Bamfo also alleged that tests conducted by the Ghana Standards Authority six months ago revealed that about 85 per cent of the spare parts imported into the country by the Nigerians was sub-standard.
About three weeks ago, the Ashanti Regional GUTA executive met with the Ashanti Regional Minister, Mr Simon Osei Mensah, on the same issue, during which the minister is said to have promised to meet the two groups on his return from a foreign trip, but the Suame traders could not wait.
The leader of the Nigerian spare parts dealers, Mr Okechuku Obiora, told the Daily Graphic that the affected Nigerians were awaiting the outcome of a meeting with the authorities on the issue.