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Teach Head Porters Useful Skills Instead

As always, the annual budget presented by the finance minister, Ken Ofori Atta was full of financial gimmicks and empty promises.

For one thing, the economy is still in the doldrums and for another, nothing in the budget sheds light on how best to get the economy out of its current funk, miserable predicament. The budget did not offer Ghanaians any relief from the daily vagaries of life — the ever-increasing prices of essentials items.

All in all, the government once again has fallen flat in its promise to make life livable for Ghanaians. One item in the budget that caught my attention and has predictably caused a lot of consternation was the government’s decision to build a 600-bedroom hostel for the hundreds of young girls predominately from the north who work in Accra as head porters.

The government’s decision is ample evidence of its inability to provide ready solutions for the country’s many problems. Building a hostel for the head porters is bad public policy and nothing more than a stop-gap measure; it is more like a plaster that you apply to a wound knowing very well that it has no healing qualities.

Yes, I understand the head porters nagging problem has been a thorn in the flesh of past Ghanaian administrations who with domestic and international NGOs tried their best to find answers, but to no avail. The problem continues to defy solution, much to the befuddlement of many policy people.

Ghanaians have been particularly hard on the head porters. However, Ghanaians are forgetting that the reasons that drove these young girls to leave the comfort and safety of their homes in the north to  dangerous environments in urban centers in the south are the same reasons that drove some of us overseas, be it to the United States, Western Europe or to the Arab world —– in search of economic opportunities that will enable us improve our lives, fend for our families and create a secure future. What the hell is wrong with that, I ask?

Nobody wants to admit it; but the truth of the matter is that the head porters are victims of a society that is grossly unfair and where income inequality is deep; yes, they are the unwitting victims of an economy system that has thoroughly failed to perform.

Building a hostel is a sure way to induce other young girls to make their merry way to Accra and Kumasi to try their luck at head porter business if you can even call it that — it is domestic slavery, if you ask me.

Ultimately, the onus rests on the NPP government to fulfill some of its glossy election year campaign promises; grow the economy and create jobs in areas that need them the most.  Te one thing the government can do to remedy the situation is to reopen all the industries that once thrived in the northern regions and see if the head porter problem would not be minimized.

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