Senior citizens for social welfare assistance return home empty-handed

Social Welfare recipients wait for their turn to enter the Westpac Bank in Nausori on Wednesday. Picture: JONA KONATACI

Scores of senior citizen social welfare recipients congregated daily outside two banks in Suva, Nausori, Lautoka and Nadi this week, waiting for their monthly financial assistance.

Many who had travelled from the hinterlands before having any breakfast remained hopeful the monies would be deposited, so they hung around until 4pm when the banks closed.

Despite the wait, many returned home empty-handed.

Those who showed up and gathered in little groups across from the banks in the business centres claimed they had fulfilled the recertification requirements by the Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Ministry before the due date last month.

Hungry and tired, they expressed anger and were emotional after being informed by bank staff that there was nothing they could do.

“Sa dua na tamani cakacaka levu qai vakavu oca. (This has been a real hassle for us),” said 69-year-old Leone Akuila.

He said he left his Nasaibitu home in Wainibuka, Tailevu, to be at Nausori at 9am to withdraw his social welfare allowance.

He dejectedly returned to his home because no funds had been deposited into his account.

He said upon querying at the Social Welfare Department, he was told to wait as it would take some time to process his social welfare allowance.

Mr Akuila said he had filled the new forms required by social welfare.

“They had announced it and we came to fill the forms, I really don’t know what’s the delay.”

He said several attempts to withdraw money from the bank yesterday proved futile.

“I am really upset because I had wanted to buy our monthly groceries, but I couldn’t because of this.”

A team from this newspaper visited Nausori yesterday and witnessed elderly men and women sitting on the pavement in front of the Westpac Bank waiting for allowances to be deposited into their accounts.

Director of Social Welfare Rupeni Fatiaki yesterday said that only recertified recipients would receive allowances.

“Only those who have recertified, the money will be coming in,” he said.

“Those who haven’t recertified, we have already made the announcement.”

The Department of Social Welfare had said as of July 19 it had received a total of 50,360 forms out of 77,512 recipients.

The ministry said out of the forms issued, they had yet to receive 8501 forms and 18,651 applicants had yet to retrieve a form.

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