Vendors at the Arts Centre in Accra have appealed to the government to intervene in their plea to authorities to write off payment of rent for the centre in 2020.
The appeal follows decline in business at the centre since the outbreak of COVID-19. They also attributed the decline in business to competition between made-in-Ghana products and foreign ones. The centre has over the years been the shopping hub of local and international customers, including tourists.
The vendors told The Mirror in an interview in Accra that they were pleading because the pandemic had deprived them of their customers who were mainly foreigners. Individual vendors pay a yearly rent of GH¢204 to the Centre for National Culture..
This payment is in addition to a quarterly GH¢120 to the Ghana Revenue Authority, a yearly amount of GH¢30 to the Korley Klottey Municipal Assembly and a daily payment of GH¢80 for refuse collection.
The Chairman for Traditional Kente, Culture and Adinkra Manufacturers/Sellers Association at the centre, Mr Charles Kofi Appiah, said vendors were struggling to make sales and to match the competition posed by imported goods.
“Rent 2020 should be pardoned. Sometimes we will be here the whole week no sale. My people are complaining they cannot pay the rent. It is no fault of anybody; it is the pandemic. We want the president to terminate last year’s rent for us,” he said.
He raised concerns about imitated goods and how they had become the preference of a lot of people because they were selling at a cheap price.
Showing some of the imitated goods to this reporter, Mr Appiah explained that a dress made with authentic kente fabric was selling at GH¢80 while the imitated ones were being sold at GH¢30.
Again he said authentic wrist beads were being sold for GH¢5 but the imitated one was selling at GH¢1, explaining that patrons would need almost five times the amount of the pirated one to get original wrist beads.
Mr Appiah said the importation of those goods was destroying local craft and urged authorities not to approve them as they were on the increase.
“We buy the fake ones over our traditional ones. They tried smock imitation but the design did not come out well so the market didn’t survive. We need to stop them from bringing them into our country. It is spoiling our kente business; it is destroying local craft,” he added.
Mr Appiah expressed worry that it seemed the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture was not concerned about their plight in spite of the fact that last year they wrote 10 different letters on the matter to the ministry.
He said “the ministry is not looking after us well. The focus should not only be on the music industry. The future of the Arts Centre was bright but now l cannot say much”.