Ghanaians held in Burkina cells

TOMATO TRADERS GIVING Ghana a bad name among her trading neighbours in the West African sub-region is assuming horrendous proportions.

Information reaching Wojaku indicates that several Ghanaian tomato traders, most of them women, and their agents in Navrongo and Paga, who introduce the traders to Burkina Faso farmers, had been placed in police  cells for fraud.

The quantum of cash owed Burkinabe farmers runs into millions of new Ghana cedis, and as we do this piece, there are several seized in Ouagadougou because of such crimes and the refusal of drivers and traders to own up.

Names of the delinquents have been withheld by the paper.

Traders and their Ghanaian interpreters, who are mostly from Navrongo and Paga in the Upper East, were hauled before the law courts and police prosecutors during the just ended cross-border trade for crediting tomatoes and absconding. According to Wojaku sources in Upper East and Dakola, Burkina Faso‘s border town after Paga, their crimes also included taking loans from individual Burkimanes and refusing to pay back.

The Ghana Embassy has in the last several years tried hard to resolve such problems by intervening and getting the leadership of the Association to pay later, but it appears Embassy staff and their bosses are being overwhelmed by the level of intrigue and immorality the women are putting up.

Not only are they saddled with cases of drivers being involved in accidents through reckless driving, they physically have sometimes taken upon themselves the responsibility of handling dead bodies and sending them to mortuaries or supervising burial of other bodies that cannot be identified.

They also in the effort to provide permanent solutions to the scourge initiated a reform through the Ministry of the Trade and Industry in the systems regulating the cross border trade to sanitize the trade through money transfer arrangements and banning of traders from going directly into Burkinabe farm gates. The traders, however, in the name of democracy and keen on always wanting to outsmart the Burkinabes, began using unapproved routes to enter farm gates in most instances, without IDs.

The Burkinabe farmers, who depend on the registration numbers of the trucks to track the traders later hand over such numbers to their gendarmerie who track down the drivers for them to produce the traders.

The cross-border trade in tomatoes and other vegetable began over 12 years ago, and whilst the trade had boomed in terms of figures, mutual benefits had been minimal because of the intrigues associated with the trade.

Ghanaian farmers in the Upper East, fed up with the kind of intrigues traders from the South exhibit have decided not to trade in tomatoes any longer. But the Burkinabes, who are relying on the Government of Ghana to crack the whip on the Ghanaian traders, are yet to apply the necessary sanctions or implement appropriate directives in sanitizing, modernizing and monitoring the tomato cross-border tomato trade.

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