Kayaye (Head Potters) in Accra have expressed anxiety over the numerous challenges they face at the various market centres they work and reside in Accra, with a call on government and non-governmental organisations to come to their aid.
In an interview with the Ghana News Agency, Ms Rahinatu Sule, a Kayayo at Accra Tema station, said: “We sleep here in the markets and when we want to bath or urinate, unless we pay money. I have roamed since morning, and it is 1800 hours but I have only earned GHS1.00.
You can sleep and someone will come to cut your attire and your underwear or brassier to check if there’s money on you and they forcibly take it but you can’t scream else they will hurt you.
Despite the hassle and tussle they go through in the various cities while befriending mosquitoes at night as a result of search for greener pastures, Ms Sule said their lives were miserable at night by the supposed ‘junky boys’ who also lived on the streets.
“We have left our mothers in the North to come and seek greener pastures, so imagine that the little money you earn is stolen from you in an awkward manner when you sleep. Now you cannot eat, drink water or go to ease yourself if you don’t have money here,” she said.
Ms Fuseina Haminu, a 17-year old Kayaye also in Accra Tema said sometimes men attacked them while wearing masks to take advantage of them, some of which they succeeded.
Sometimes you will go to work and may not get even earn GH¢ 1.00 but you will still need to pay money to visit the washroom, eat and drink water. And they will come to steal the little you have garnered,” she added.
She explained that she joined the fight in Accra for better living conditions because her father was late and her mother could not afford to cater for the children alone.
“We are twins but we lost our father few years after we were born, so it’s the kaya work that I do to support my mother to cater for me and my younger siblings. I really wish someone could help me to secure a job,” she said.
Ms Muzina Adams, a 15-year old Kayaye at the Tudu market, said: “I sleep in the market and I go to pay GH¢1.00 to have my bath. I buy food, either GH¢ 1.00 or GH¢ 2.00 to eat and though it is usually not enough, you still need to leave some to eat later.
I started school but had to quit at JHS 1 when there was an outbreak of COVID-19 because of financial challenges since my father died. Even when I decide to go to school, getting money to buy food for myself is very difficult. So I came to work for money to go to my hometown and learn a vocation to cater for my mother.”
Ms Hafisatu Sule, another Kayaye at the Makola market said she worked at a ‘chop bar’ from 0400 hours to 1900 daily and worked as a potter over the weekend.
“You will go to hassle as a ‘Kaya’ and will not get any money at times. Sometimes money to bath with is even a problem, unless you go to beg them. Just recently I struggled to get GH¢ 400.00 to get a smart phone, but they have come to steal it. Now, we even want lorry fare to go to our hometown but we are not getting it,” she said.
“When we are about to sleep, we either put our little earnings in our brassier or pant and they come to attack us, cut it and remove the money. If you catch them and don’t comply, they can stab you with a knife. So the only option is to be quiet and cry within you and only shout for help in the morning,” she reiterated.
Ms Sule appealed to government and non-governmental organisations to create jobs in the North to enable them to earn income in their hometowns to cater for their families.