Some traders at the Art Centre in Accra on Monday called on the government to support their businesses from collapse amidst the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Ghana News Agency observed during a visit to the Centre that the traders were seated in their shops with their nose masks on, waiting anxiously for customers to patronize their items.
Mr. Mensah Sessoa Fio, Manager of Mama Heritage shop, said business had been slow since the beginning of the year.
He said since the advent of the pandemic last year, the only time they were able to make appreciable sales was during the 2020 electioneering campaign period and the Christmas yuletide.
He said with the rise in infections of COVID-19 since the beginning of the year, business activities had become slow; people were not trouping to the center to buy items.
Ms. Patience Vukor, Manager of Shop 147/148 and retailer of African prints, said she had not made any sales for the past two weeks.
“For the past two weeks, I have not made any sales. People are not coming here to buy and I have to always come all the way from Nsawam to work hoping that the day may be different. Things are very difficult for us here,” she said.
She reiterated that business revived during the latter part of 2020 after most COVID-19 restrictions were lessened, however, since the rise in infections coupled with the government’s enforcement of restrictions last month things had not been the same.
She called on the government to come to their aid since their businesses were on the verge of collapse if things remained as it was.
Ms. Vukor said some of them were not able to access the government’s COVID-19 relief fund, a loan fund for traders, saying, the fund should be made available to them too.
Hajia Mamuna, a trader of wood carvings, said due to financial difficulties some shop owners have closed down their shops.
She said paying for utility bills – rent, electricity, and water bills had become difficult; “things are at a standstill, we call on the government to come to our aid because not all of us were able to get the government loan”.
Mr. Aziz Abdul, a trader, said foreigners were the major customers of the art industry, but due to restrictions at the point of entry and traveling ban across some major countries across the world, the industry which forms part of the tourism sector was falling apart.
He said we needed to promote our arts locally, and expressed concern that most organization and institutions including some public entities were not patronizing local arts works and import from other countries.