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Business News of Sunday, 13 January 2013

Source: Graphic Online

Old fridge dealers complain of job loss

Fridge dealers in Accra say although they will comply with the law banning the importation of second-hand fridges, the decision will greatly affect their operations.

They said they would not only be put out of business but it would affect their livelihood and worsen the unemployment situation in the country.

Moreover, they said, the assembling and manufacturing of fridges locally should have taken off before the law to ban the fridges was implemented.

In separate interviews, the dealers, some of who said they had been in the business for decades, contended that the cost of purchasing new fridges was way beyond the reach of majority of Ghanaians.

They, therefore, called on the government to reconsider the decision to ban the fridges for now.

The ban on the importation of used refrigerators, freezers and air conditioners took effect from January 1, 2013.

That followed the coming into force of Legislative Instrument (LI) 1932 (2008) which bans the importation of those used items.

Following the passage of the law, a grace period of two years was granted to allow importers and dealers to readjust their operations.

The association of dealers of used refrigerators, however, pleaded with the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology to extend the deadline.

A decision was, therefore, arrived at by the two ministries and the dealers to extend the deadline to December 31, 2012.

A dealer, K. Asiamah, said he was going to comply with the law and that Ghanaians should prepare for the repercussions.

He said he had 12 young men who assisted him on a daily basis and that with the law, it meant he had to ask all of them to leave since he would be out of business.

“These young men also have dependants like myself so you can imagine,” he said.

Mr Asiamah said the dealers provided valuable services to the hundreds of Ghanaians who could not afford new fridges.

Mr Asiamah, who said he had been in the business for the past 15 years, said apart from the cost of new fridges, most people preferred the second-hand fridges because they were cheaper, durable and lasted longer than the new ones.

Another dealer, Joseph Bediako, who said he was also going to adhere to the law, claimed that the fridges and freezers they imported into the country did not contain chlorofluorocarbons (CFC), as was being speculated.

He said fridges that contained the CFC were seized at the ports.

Also, he said, the consumption of power by the second-hand fridges was not as high as claimed.

“Moreover people use prepaid metres and pay their bills,” Mr Bediako said, and called for more dialogue on the matter as a result of the implications of the ban.

Alhaji Azumah Mohammed, a dealer for 15 years, said the sale of the second-hand fridges was his only source of livelihood.

“Look at me. I cannot do anything again. This is what I have been doing to take care of my family. I also employ five boys who help in cleaning the fridges,” he said, adding that “it is really going to be a big problem for all of us”.

He said he paid all the taxes he was supposed to pay and so he did not understand why the ban.

Bismark Essibu, Samuel Owusu-Ansah, Agya Boadi, Daniel Kwakye and Beatrice Asiamah, all dealers, said phasing out of the old fridges should have been done gradually.

Some young men who also assisted the dealers together with some buyers and repairers said they were going to be affected if the ban was not reversed.

Two assistants, Prince Boateng and Kofi Antwi, said they had worked with their bosses for the past decade, and changing employment now would be difficult.

“This is what we do for a living,” Antwi said.

A buyer, Emmanuel Berchie, said he decided to purchase a second-hand fridge because like most Ghanaians he could not afford to buy a new fridge.

“Sometimes the new ones do not last,” he said.

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