Gender, Children and Social Protection Minister, Cynthia Morrison has justified the government’s plans of providing food and shelter for 15,000 head porters popularly known as ‘kaayayei and Persons With Disability (PWDs) following the current COVID-19 lockdown in parts of Accra, Tema and Kumasi.
She explained that the figure represents the number of such persons currently in the affected areas and does not include their counterparts who have already fled to other parts of the country.
The Minister’s explanation follows concerns that the number is not a true reflection of the ‘kaayayei’ community given the fact that many of them had left the affected areas thereby hampering any effort to trace them.
But speaking on Eyewitness News, Cynthia Morrison absolved her outfit from blame arguing that they had asked the head porters “not leave because the Ministry had put in place some interventions for them.”
“Every market has its list with their leadership. So they brought it and we compiled the list. But we are not using that list because some of the people have left. So if I used that budget of say GHS50,000 and go for that money, what am I going to do with it? I need to know the people who have remained; that is the budget I am working with. I use the number of people left, go for that money and use it to cater for them. I can not just estimate like that”.
“That is why I personally went round for those who are left in Accra and Tema and Ashanti Region. While we were compiling the data, we asked them not to go but some of them left. Even those on the truck, I went there personally and told them that we were going to cater for them so they shouldn’t go but some of them went and the truck brought them back. Others are also gone and so that is where we are. We have that data and that is what we are working with. It is 15,000,” she said.
At a press conference on Wednesday, April 1, 2020, the Minister, disclosed that some head porters numbering over 15,000 have been identified in some selected areas in Accra and Kumasi will benefit from the government-sponsored relief.
The move she said was to discourage their unnecessary movement during the lockdown to stem the spread of the virus.
“Some of them have rented apartments but some also live on the streets. For those without a place of abode, we currently have 15,000 that we are going to cater for. There is going to be food, water and we have corporate bodies cooking for them,” she said.
Following the announcement of a lockdown of Accra, Kasoa, Tema and Kumasi, there have been a number of people mostly Kayayei who have left the capital to Bimbilla in the Nanumba North Municipality of the Northern region.
On Sunday, March 29, 2020, about six VIP buses carrying over 200 passengers were seen entering Bimbilla.
A COVID-19 taskforce formed by the Nanumba North Municipality directed all the buses to the Bimbilla Senior Hgh School where their temperatures were taken and sensitized on COVID-19 preventive measures.
At Ejisu, two cargo trucks that were occupied by dozens of head porters were directed to return back to Accra on Tuesday.
The first truck which was covered with tarpaulin had about 35 women and 35 children who were en route to Walewale.
The second truck with about 60 people was heading to Tamale.