#LockdownSA: Transport woes for elderly social grant collectors
The elderly, and those living with disabilities, in the North West struggled to get transport to their grant payment points on the fourth day of the national lockdown.
As a result of the Covid-19 outbreak, the elderly, and people living with disabilities, receive their social grant payments earlier this month. This is an effort by the government to ensure that there is no congestion at payment points, because over 17-million people are expected to leave their homes to collect their social grants.
Last week, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the country will be placed under a 21-day lockdown in a bid to fight the virus. At the time of writing, the virus has claimed two lives in the country and an estimated 1 280 people have tested positive for Covid-19.
The South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) said the elderly and those with disabilities will receive their grants from 30-31 March. Other grants, such as social support, will be collected from 1 April.
Transport struggles, despite government reassurance
In Itsoseng, near Lichtenburg, pensioner Boitumelo Moremi told OurHealth that there was no taxi in sight when she made her way to collect her grant.
“I struggled to get to the post office because there were no local taxis, or those that are going to town. Somebody told me that transport is being restricted due to this disease [Covid-19]. I hope that there will be enough transport for us when we go back home because we will be carrying a few grocery items.”
Government has eased some conditions of the lock down such as travel arrangements to accommodate those who will be collecting their grants. During the grant collection period, taxi operators will be able to provide their services from 05:00am to 20:00pm.
Taxi drivers left in the dark
Kagiso Molefe, a local taxi driver, explained that they were only told this morning that they are allowed to transport the elderly between 05:00am and 20:00pm.
“We didn’t know that we were allowed to transport other people except those who were providing essential services. Some of us only got the message this morning and we will ensure that we will assist those in need of transport. I welcome this decision because the lockdown has seriously affected our profits.”
Social distancing, but no sanitizer
OurHealth visited two ATM’s and a South African Post Office (SAPO) collection point in Itsoseng this morning, to see whether the public was adhering to the rules set out by the government.
At the ATM’s, social distancing was adhered to and people queued in an orderly manner despite the long lines. Members of the South African Police Services (SAPS) maintained a strong presence to ensure that citizens stuck to the law. There were also members of the provincial disaster management team who provided assistance to the elderly. Outside the post office, social distancing was not maintained.
71-year old Elizabeth Manone told OurHealth that she was happy that things were going according to plan despite a shortage of transport.
“Everything is going well despite the fact that we had to walk long distances because there was no transport. Police are spreading us out because they say they do not want us to put each others’ health at risk.”
One worrying factor was that there was no hand sanitiser available at both ATM’s which could result in further spread of the virus.
Stricter self-quarantine rules
Meanwhile, the North West health department wants to implement stricter laws for patients who are in self-quarantine. MEC Madoda Sambatha explained that three patients who were supposed to be in self-quarantine had moved to other districts and were putting other citizens at risk.
“We have sent communication to the Health Minister because we no longer want people to be in self-quarantine. Three patients have been moving around after they were put in self-quarantine. This is a huge risk because they are getting into contact with other people as they are travelling. The province wants to use guesthouses and B&B’s — where there will be security guards who will guard these people,” said Sambatha.
The health department also says they are talking to the private hospital sector to see how more beds can be made available in the result of more cases being identified. — Health-e News
For more information on Covid-19 in South Africa, you can call the toll-free line on 0800 029 999, or you can send a message that says “Hi” on WhatsApp to the number 060 012 3456. You can also visit the SA Coronavirus website.