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29.03.2007 Business & Finance

‘Obroni wawu’ sellers rubbish NGO’s findings

By Nii Kwaku Osabutey Anny

A group of second hand clothes dealers popularly called 'obroni wawu' have described as “rubbish” a research finding by the Netherlands-based NGO Third Chamber that the importation of second hand clothes into the country is not helping the growth of the economy because of the waste their activities have generated over the years.

Two officials of Third Chamber, an initiative of the National Commission for Sustainable Development Cooperation (NCDO), Hoite Spiijkstra and Isabelle Amorim last week told journalists that the activities of second hand clothing importers has little or no significant bearing on the growth of the Ghanaian economy.

Sellers and importers of obroni wawu have however dismissed the findings. In random interviews conducted by the dailyEXPRESS to get their reaction to the research findings, some of the sellers said it is incorrect to say that they are doing little to help prop up the economy.

“I'm actually surprised by what you've just told me about people trying to say our activity does not impact positively on the national economy,” Yaw Berko, one of the many sellers reacted.

He said most of them pay daily tolls to the city authorities and that is what is used in running the city of Accra and also forms part of their contribution to the economy.

Alex Agyekum, am importer/ wholesaler of secondhand clothing reminded the public that the industry employs a lot of people, helping to reduce the high employment rate. “Most of people you see here are in business. What do you think they might be doing with their lives had they not gotten involved in the business” he asked rhetorically.

Mr. Agyekum noted that that “it's not everybody who can become a doctor, lawyer or anything, you see. We are all created differently and sometimes it's unfortunate when people think they are more sensible than others and would therefore seek to bring the business of others down.”

He said though available statistics are not readily available to ascertain the contributions of second-hand clothes dealers in the country, they believe that their contributions are very significant.

“Look at the number of people alone here in makola, daily collections of tolls should be more than what other sectors generate. Not to even talk about the entire nation,” he said in a very calm but firm tone.

Mr. Agyekum, who says he has been in the business for close to two decades, said he has been able to educate three of his four children to the university level with money coming from the business.

“There are equally others who are keeping their families alive through the money they make from this very trade. We don't need foreigners with their Ghanaian collaborators to dictate to us what we ought to do with our lives as a country,” he added

He would not agree with assertions that people have in the past raised concerns about possible health risks and effects on the local textile industry.

“Look my friend, in every business there are some excesses, but that cannot be used as a yardstick to say our business is creating filth in the country and that we don't contribute to the economy. This country has always been a dumping ground for everything from food aid, you know, you work in the media so you might have more information than I do,” he said in defense of his colleagues

Though members of the Netherlands-based NGO, Third Chamber, could not be reached to find out methods that informed their findings apart from their assertion that the importation of second hand goods and equipment of bad quality from western countries to Africa was a motivation for the development, dailyEXPRESS gathered that the group intend using its findings to solicit for financial support from the Dutch government which will be given to given to some of the dealers to venture into other enterprises.

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