GUTA Strike Affects Business Activities

Many stores in the Central Business District (CBD) of Accra remain closed on the second day of a strike by the members of the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA). The protest has led to slow business activities in areas such as Okaishie, Opera Square and Makola. The usual traffic congestion in the business district was also absent. However, many stores at Osu were opened and business activities in the area were brisk as usual. When the Daily Graphic went round to assess the situation on the ground yesterday, a handful of stores at Okaishie, Makola and Opera Square were opened. Presence of armed policemen Some of the big stores such as Melcom were also opened with armed policemen on guard to quell any possible attack. The policemen were posted to guard those stores since yesterday in anticipation that their operation could incur the displeasure of the leadership of GUTA. Unaware of protest Some of the owners of the stores told the Daily Graphic that they were not aware of the protest being embarked on by GUTA. According to them, the leadership of the association failed to give out letters to notify them about its intention. Disagreement Another trader who wanted to remain anonymous said he strongly disagreed with the objective of the protest initiated by the leadership of GUTA. According to the trader when doctors and nurses embarked on demonstrations they reserved the right to do so as public servants. Leadership gave no notice Mrs Elizabeth Aggrey, a trader at Makola, who had her textile store opened said though she supported the protest she needed to operate her store to raise capital for a consignment she was expecting. “My goods are coming and I have to open my store so I could mobilise some money to clear them as soon as possible”, she said, claiming that “I am backing our leaders. Reasons for protest At a press conference in Accra last Monday, the President of GUTA, Mr George K. Ofori, said the government’s policies such as a special levy of three per cent on imports, 2.5 per cent increase in Value Added Tax (VAT), coupled with the depreciation of the cedi and illegal charges at the ports were inimical to the operations of traders. He also expressed worry over the competition in the retail trade which they claimed was the preserve of Ghanaians.