Members of Parliament (MPs) want female head porters, popularly known as kayayei, below 18 years banned from the job.
According to the MPs, the Children’s Act should be strictly adhered to in order to deter young people from engaging in the practice.
Kayayei mostly migrate or are trafficked from rural communities, especially from the three northern regions, to the country’s cities to work, carrying loads for a living.
Speaking on the floor of parliament Friday March 4 on the report of the Committee on Gender and Children on the kayayei phenomenon in Ghana, the MPs called for strict regulation of the practice.
“One major thing that the report came out with is that they have recognised that the service provided by the kayayei is a necessity and for that matter to dump it completely may not be the best way to go and I associate myself with that part of the report. But we can ban those who are below 18 years and then properly register those who are above 18 years who can provide the service,” Akwatia MP Baba Jamal said.
Hajia Laadi Ayii Ayamba, chairperson of the committee, said: “The kayayei phenomenon has gained a national dimension and requires national attention and a comprehensive policy to bring it down to the barest minimum. The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection should be given the needed support in developing policies that will help in the reduction in the level of migration. The Children’s Act should also be strictly implemented to ensure that children are not used in the kayayei trade. The budget allocation to the ministry should be increased to enable it tackle all socio-cultural issues effectively and efficiently.”
Ranking Member of the committee Gifty Eugenia Kusi stressed that the phenomenon of kayayei in Ghana was a worrying situation.
“Mr Speaker, a visit to Agbogbloshie and Mallam Atta [markets] where most of these kayayei could be found really put us in a situation which is very pathetic. You see these young ladies lying in places they shouldn’t lie. They are susceptible to rain and beating and other issues that happen to them. Mr Speaker, so we thought as a committee that we needed to do what we did but, Mr Speaker, after we present this report we want to urge the authorities, especially the ministry, to take this situation very seriously,” she appealed.
MP for Odododiodio Nii Lante Vanderpuye blamed the issue on poor parenting.
The MP said: “Certain parents are just shedding their responsibilities of taking care of their children and it is time as a country we make sure that parents become responsible to take care of the needs of their children. Education of the child, the welfare of the child, should be the responsibility of that father and mother who decided to bring that child into the world.
“We should make sure the legal regimes protect the children. Mr Speaker, if we continue to make sure that parents who shed their responsibilities are dealt with, people will become responsible for their children …I don’t believe the issue of kayayei is just a social problem. I think it’s an indictment on our conscience as a people”.