NKURENKURU - Government’s social grants beneficiaries at Nkambe village in the Kavango West’s Tondoro constituency are outraged over the distance they have to travel to receive their payments, requesting that they start receiving it at their village as from next month.
The irate beneficiaries, who were so eager to share their plight, indicated that over the years they had to wake up as early as 04h00 or 05h00 in the morning to access the nearest paypoint in time.
Their paypoint is at Mburu-uru village, which is about seven kilometres away from Nkambe. According to the beneficiaries, the distance is way too long for a pensioner or a person living with disability to reach, citing the unfavourable road conditions as another issue.
An old-age grant beneficiary, Rebeus Anselm Aimbili, said because he cannot see well, when he went to receive his grant, he woke up too early thinking it was dawning, but it was actually the moonlight.
“When I reached Mburu-uru, it was not even 05h00 yet. I was cold, it was the young women who were baking their fat cakes who put me by the fire,” said Aimbili.
Aimbili’s mother, who is over 100 years old, did not receive her old-age grant for this month due to an injury sustained the previous month when a cart pulled by an ox in which she was being ferried overturned. Another old-age grant beneficiary Renate Simbumburu at least has a family at Mburu-uru where she would go earlier to overnight.
It is still, however, very challenging and dangerous for her as at times she had to walk alone when there was no one to escort her.
When asked if she is not scared that anything bad could happen to her on the way, she responded: “What can you do – who will you go with when all the grandchildren are at school?” As a temporary relief, there is a single transport vehicle from Mburu-uru that transports them in trips and when one misses it, they have to walk.
This, they said, would at many times result in them missing out from receiving their grants at Mburu-uru as it is always taking place in the morning.
In this situation they said, they are then forced to pay transport to and from Mbambamusi village or use other villages which are also furthest.
The chairperson of the village’s development committee, Johannes Kasindi, claimed they have several times, from 2015 put in requests through the constituency office to start receiving grants at their village but to no avail.
According to him, the information they received in a meeting held last year with the constituency councillor is that payments of the grants would be made at the village as from January of this year but nothing yet has happened.
They are now again requesting the process to be fast-tracked so that come April, they will not have to find themselves in the same situation again. The constituency’s councillor Joseph Sivaku Sikongo, who also doubles as the chairperson of the regional council, confirmed their requests together with that of other villages.
He, however, denied Kasindi’s claims that they were told that payments of grants would also be made at their village as of January this year but were instead told to wait pending the poverty eradication ministry’s budget, as it (ministry) allegedly indicated that the budget then was not enough for all the requests to be approved at once, thus only one of those was approved.
Sikongo said the responsible ministry will be invited to a meeting through the council to give feedback on the current status of the requests as it is now long overdue.