Namibia: Social Grant Queues Compound Social Distancing

Chaos nearly erupted yesterday, as social distancing measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 for hundreds of the elderly and vulnerable individuals in zigzag queues for social grants at Moses Garoeb constituency councillor offices in Havana proved tricky.

When New Era arrived at the offices around 09h00 yesterday, there were long queues comprising of the senior citizens and the young individuals who are either beneficiaries or have come to receive grants on behalf of their children.

However, with all the squeezing and pushing to get the first spot, the social distancing of at least one metre between one another to avoid the spread of Coronavirus was not observed.Some pensioners complained they started queuing up from as early as 02h00 am.

Epupa Investment Security teams mandated to ensure social grant payments are given to those in need, with the help of the Namibian police to ensure security and peace.

The security officials tried to explain to the beneficiaries that the young people should allow the elderly, the pregnant women and those living with disabilities to be assisted first, but this did not go down well with them.

Some of the aggrieved younger people started jumping the queue at the expense of the seniour citizens.

Around 10h00, Epupa security teams and the Namibian police managed to bring order and social distancing was also adhered to. With the assistance of the security guards and the police, elderly people, who are more susceptible to the virus, formed a separate queue from the one by young women and men, who were there to receive grants for their children. "We woke up as early as 01h00 to be first in the queues. But now the officers and security guards are only allowing the elderly people to get help and not us the younger ones," bemoaned a young mother who refused to be mentioned. At the entrance of the constituency office, there were security guards and police officers armed with sanitisers to make sure that those who came through had their hands sanitised.

Epupa security manager Ngurimuje Tjirimuje said they tried their best to maintain law and order with the assistance of the Namibian police in terms of social distancing.

"We don't want people to go home without money. We tried to educate them on social distancing. We have a lot of paying machines and teams in different areas to avoid having a lot of people being crowded in one place," Tjirimuje explained.

He said they opened doors to the elderly and those who came to collect money for vulnerable children around 08h00 and will close with payments around 17h00.

He was hopeful they would finish with all payments to the needy people.

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