The Ghanaian government has ordered a tomato processing factory in the capital Accra to close down because it has been operating without a licence.
Happy Sunshine, which generally imports Chinese La Vonce tomato paste and re-packages it for sale in West African markets, was fined GHC15 000 and closed down for operating illegally in August last year.
In a letter sent to the company directors and copied to the Ghanaian Police Service, the Office of the President and health regulatory departments on 5 January, Environment Science and Technology Minister Professor Kwabena Boateng said the factory should cease operations forthwith.
“It has come to my notice that despite several directives to stop the production of canned tomato paste, specifically production, packaging and warehousing, you continue to operate in violation of your obligation under Environmental Protection Act of 1994 and the Environmental Assessment Regulations of 1999.
“Through this letter, I am also directing the relevant Divisional Commander of the Ghana Police Service to take the necessary steps to ensure compliance with this directive. Take note, and notice is hereby served that any person who hinders or obstructs any other person acting under this order commits an offence and is liable to prosecution,” Prof. Boateng said.
After being fined for operating illegally in August 2017, the owners of the factory were told that no production could take place until they legalised their operations. However, they violated the order and resumed full production without an operating license in November last year.
Locals have accused the company of affecting the local environment through noise, air and environmental pollution. All tomato paste factories operating in Ghana and Nigeria import Chinese-made tomato paste in bulk and repackage to sell locally.
Chinese suppliers have taken advantage of the weakness of the agricultural sector throughout West Africa, where tomato production remains insufficient to meet industrial demand.