OR Tambo braces for sanitised pension rush

OR Tambo district municipality said it was properly prepared for the influx of pensioners to towns.
OR Tambo district municipality said it was properly prepared for the influx of pensioners to towns.
Image: Leon Swart/123rf.com

Thousands of social grant beneficiaries, both elderly and disabled, are expected to flock to towns across the Eastern Cape on Monday and Tuesday to access their grants, and if there are no plans to adhere to the Covid-19 regulations, that will defeat the whole purpose of a nationwide lockdown.

However, the OR Tambo district municipality said it was properly prepared for the influx of pensioners to towns like Mthatha, Libode, Mqanduli, Ngqeleni, Port St Johns, Lusikisiki and Flagstaff, which fall under its jurisdiction.

On Sunday OR Tambo mayor Thokozile Sokhanyile said all the halls in these towns will be utilised to accommodate these beneficiaries. She said tents will also be utilised.

''We have spoken to the taxi industry and bus owners to assist us in this period. They have agreed to transport people around, while we will also provide water and sanitisers in all halls, halls which will be monitored by marshals,'' said Sokhanyile.

She said taxis will be allowed to transport pensioners from halls to supermarkets.

She said pensioners could use their pension cards for entering towns, and would not need to have permits at entry and exit points.

On Friday and Saturday people coming to buy groceries and medicines in Mthatha were requested to produce permits and those who did not, were turned away.

"'This will not happen to the pensioners, as long as they have their pension cards. We will need to adhere to the rules without inconveniencing pensioners,” said Sokhanyile.

She said all transporters had been educated and had promised to adhere to Covid-19 regulations.

“Water tanks have already been delivered to various villages. Security will be strengthened to ensure grant beneficiaries do not become victims to robbers, while some roads and lanes will be closed in these towns to create drop-off and pick-up points.

“Health officials will be there to monitor  whether social distancing is observed,” said Sokhanyile.

AB350 bus services chair Sithembele Hintsa said: ''We will be raising awareness by displaying Covid-19 pamphlets on all our buses. We will also issue out masks and sanitisers in our buses.” 

Hintsa asked those who would be going to access their grants on Monday and Tuesday to bring only one person with them, where possible, to minimise crowding in buses.


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