Government appears to have now noticed the harsh circumstances of the vulnerable in society as the Covid-19 lockdown begins to bite hard.
Gender and Social Protection Minister, Cynthia Morrison, today told journalists that her Ministry is scrambling together mitigation measures including the provision of shelter, food and medicine to vulnerable people including homeless head porters and the mentally challenged.
According to her, the unplanned social intervention will include stipends to these vulnerable groups.
“Those without place of abode, we are going to keep them for the two weeks that we have imposed. We currently have like 15,000 of them that we are going to cater for. For those who have the apartment, we will find a way of sending them logistics to keep them away from coming to town. And for those that we are going to keep at the identified places that we have found, we are going to cater for them.”
The move by the government comes several days after ignoring calls for mitigating arrangements for the homeless and poor in the society who would be adversely affected by the lockdown.
“There is going to be enough food, there is going to be enough water. We have corporate bodies cooking for like 6000 and another group cooking for like 4000. So all in all, we have enough food for them,” the minister explained.
“We are also sending food to people on the streets. We have like the mentally retarded people, we are picking 20 and they are going to be cleaned, they are not going to come back from the streets; 20 of them. The facility tells us that they can only take 20 and keep clean,” the Minister said.
Ahead of the lockdown, which ensued on Monday, many had warned that the country’s demographics, which includes up to 100,000 homeless people living in the streets would require serious thinking to successfully guide the lockdown.
Apart from many homeless people living in the streets, Ghana is also a country where most homes, especially in the capital, do not have toilets.
It was warned that a lockdown of Accra and Kumasi would be precarious for vulnerable people such as the homeless, if plans were not put in place to cater for their needs.
However, the Government did not listen to any of this and hurried to announce a lockdown. Even though in announcing the partial lockdown, the President was exercising wartime powers, he did not take care to have a grasp on variables, including controlling the price of commodities and ensuring that city dwellers remained in the city.
The result was that immediately after the lockdown was announced, commodities of goods skyrocketed while many people rushed out of Kumasi and Accra to live in other parts of the country not affected by the lockdown.
The mass exodus of city dwellers has since led to the spread of the infections to three more regions – Upper West, Northern and Eastern.
As for vulnerable people like head porters and mentally challenged people, they have mostly been stranded as they already live in the streets.