The government is to establish three welfare centres in the Greater Accra and Ashanti regions to see to the welfare of female porters (kayayei), the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Nana Oye Lithur, has stated.
The centres would serve as registration points for kayayei and Social Welfare and Domestic Violence Victims and Support Unit (DOVVSU) representatives will be there to provide much needed service. There will also be periodic visits by healthcare professionals to cater for the health needs of the kayayei.
According to Nana Oye Lithur, issues that affect kayayei have serious implications for the economy and must be addressed. She stressed that “the plight of kayayei is not only a government issue but a matter of concern for the whole country because it is a development-related issue. It has socio-cultural, as well as economic dimensions.”
She was speaking at a function held to interact with the Darkuman Kayayei Association in Accra on Friday.
Nana Oye said the kayayei issue had always been a top priority issue that government wanted to find the most strategic means to address.
She stated that in addressing the problem, the kayayei had to be heard and given what they wanted, else all the efforts made would not yield any results.
“Whatever intervention government seeks to offer has to be demand-driven and that is why we have started an interaction session with their associations because if you are not able to give them exactly what they want and settle them, they would still come back,” she added.
Nana Oye also said the ministry was in talks with the government of Mauritius to establish a batik-making training institute to train more than 500 kayayei, indicating that the negotiation was still in its preliminary stage and that a positive outcome was expected.
For those who have expressed interest in education, she said the government was working on a scholarship scheme that would help them enrol in schools.
She added that some selected kayayei would also be connected to the Microfinance and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC), a financial institution, which would assist them with resources to establish petty trading businesses and gradually grow into full-scale operational businesses.
Problems facing kayayei
Narrating their ordeals, the leader of the Darkuman Kayayei Association, Ms Danwah Asibi, stated that their main problem had to do with accommodation.
She said because they had been sleeping at car parks and in front of people’s shops, they usually faced threats of rape and other dangers.
“Most of the girls are raped during the night because we sleep outside; the men just come and snatch them away and if we try to defend them, we are beaten. Our money is stolen and so in the end, our hard work goes down the drain,” she said.
Ms Asibi said they had to sleep in turns in order to protect their belongings.
She, on behalf of her colleagues, appealed to the government to come to their rescue as their situation was terrible.