U’hage SASSA office buckles under pressure

2018-06-14 06:02
=The SASSA Uitenhage local office is overcrowded with social grants recipients who have to be issued with new grant cards.    Photo:SUPPLIED

=The SASSA Uitenhage local office is overcrowded with social grants recipients who have to be issued with new grant cards. Photo:SUPPLIED

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PUBLIC frustration is mounting in Uitenhage over government inability to process thousands of social grants recipient information in order for them to be issued with new grant cards and direct bank transfers.

A shortage of staff, overcrowding, lack of seating, bad ventilation and poor access for persons with physical disabilities were some of the complaints.

“This came to light when I responded to calls from frustrated members of the public to conduct an oversight visit to the social services offices situated in Uitenhage,” said Kobus Botha, member of parliament and DA Shadow MEC for Social Development.

The Uitenhage office is the second largest local social service office in the province and under normal conditions, the staff attends to between 100 and 130 people seeking various social assistance programmes.

“During my visit last Friday, I witnessed staff and the public buckling under pressure to process new application forms, verification requirements, data capturing and approval processes before grants could be released.

“In my view, this dire situation is due to a lack of proper planning by the relevant departments. The influx of thousands of renewals should have been anticipated, irrespective of maintaining the daily demands for existing social services,” said Botha.

The Uitenhage office services the extended surrounding areas of Amanzi, Despatch, Khayamandi, KwaNobuhle, Kruisrivier and Rocklands, without any additional resources.

Phasing out of cash payments

The Department of Social Development was instructed to phase out the Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) and phase in the new service providers including commercial banks, South African Post Office (SAPO) to manage grant payments.

This transition requires volumes of administration, verifications, data capturing and issuing of new SASSA cards.

“Viewing the situation it is clear that the top management of the department has failed in operational planning, hence the current mayhem.

“I have written a letter to establish why the KwaNobuhle local social service office is still not open since 2015. I will also enquire why no provision has been made for additional staff to cope with the demand of this transition model,” said Botha. -REPORTER

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