A former Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Otiko Afisa Djaba, lamented the lack of efforts by stakeholders to modernize Ghanaian markets in order to protect the lives of the chief bearers, commonly referred to as “kayayei”.
Speaking at a program organized by the Henry Djaba Memorial Foundation, the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Otiko Djaba argued that there was a need for authorities are implementing measures to alleviate the burden of the destitute chief porters in the country. This included establishing livable and practical market structures to facilitate their operations.
The event was nicknamed “Kayayei Dialogue” and was themed “Drop the pan and take your future”.
According to her, creating decent market facilities will go a long way in removing chief porters from the streets altogether. She also underlined the need for the government and other relevant stakeholders to consider initiatives that will maximize the potential of the principal carriers to enable them to contribute their quota as the human resources of the country.
“Dropping the pan doesn’t mean right away. It’s about making sure we’re modernizing our markets and using carts for girls to become porters instead of bosses. Carrying the load on your head is unforgivable and unacceptable. It should never start again. This must stop now because of the health implications. A girl who died carrying this heavy burden. Because it was so heavy that he fell and she fell back and hurt her neck and spine. By the time they got to the hospital, she was dead, ”she revealed.
Madame Otiko Djaba explained that “they are emerging from poverty, from inadequate development in their rural environment. The government must develop all rural communities so that girls can stay in their communities. Over 100,000 girls are in Accra. As we speak, a thousand are arriving.
“Same in Kumasi and around 40,000 in Tarkoradi and Techiman. This is all of mother Ghana’s human capital that is wasting away in our markets. They have to drop this pan and pick up their future and I hope you help them because it’s not something one person would do. It takes the whole community to develop a person. The girl, the door needs to be valued ”, declared Mrs. Otiko Djaba.
The Minister of Youth and Sports, Mustapha Ussif, also affirmed that the educational initiatives and incentives have been a major measure of the government to reduce the influx of main carriers in the country. He therefore advised donors and other support groups on how to effectively assist bearer leaders in the capital and other parts of the country.
“The main political intervention of the government is the free SHS policy, because there are statistics which show that more than 50% of them have no formal education and that they mostly associate the fact of not going to the school has financial problems. But with the free SHS policy, they have no excuse but to go to school. And the school feeding program is also one of the major interventions, because once they are in school, they are fed by the government, the minister said.
He added that “apart from that, I also mentioned that the National Plan for Entrepreneurship and Innovation has collaborated with the Ministry of Gender to train the majority of them and give them equipment and capital of startup, but the challenge we’re facing is that they get all of this startup capital and equipment and they go and they come back. The numbers are not going down, they are still going up.
Mr. Ussif noted that “we need the ladies to gauge their interest. We do not have to impose the training programs on them but to evaluate and let them tell us where it is in their interest to be trained. Whether it is sewing, hairdressing, baking, they must let us know their area of interest so that we can train. Once they get into it, it’s easier for them to understand, but if you just come to personalize the workout without involving the young girls and girls, you might not get the right results.
At present, poverty, sexual abuse, poor health care and lack of suitable shelter have been identified as some of the notable challenges undermining the livelihoods of the chief carriers in the country.
To tackle these problems, the government and certain NGOs have systematically deployed interventions in the form of vocational training to lighten the work of these main promoters. But despite these efforts, records still indicate that much remains to be done to fully address the threat.
The program, which was organized to shed light on the plight of the main carriers, was in collaboration with Women in Informal Employment Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO), Boabab and International Justice Mission (IJM).