Public Utilities Minister Marvin Gonzales has vowed that as soon as the regulations are rolled back, TTPost will team up with the banking sector and Ministry of Social Development and Family Services to assist the elderly and other beneficiaries of government grants, to open bank accounts to help eliminate the long lines and congregation during the pandemic.
These beneficiaries, he said, will then receive their payments through the banks via direct deposit rather than standing in lines.
During a telephone interview last evening, Gonzales said, “Once things are normalised, I am prepared to talk to the chairman of TTPost and to get TTPost management to facilitate it. At the end of the day, they are our customers and we have to try and make things easy for them.”
Gonzales said some elderly folks like to collect their pension cheques in their hands because they feel the electronic system will rob them of their money.
“They don’t trust the system. They have to be given the assurance that the electronic system is dependable.”
Following Tuesday’s mad rush outside TTPost’s St Vincent Street, Port -of-Spain office, where scores rushed to collect social welfare grants, leading to the office shutting its doors and the police having to disperse the unruly crowd, Gonzales said feedback from TTPost yesterday indicated, “everything went smoothly. The people who showed up to collect their cheques were more orderly.”
Gonzales said he spoke to Social Development and Family Services Minister Donna Cox prior to yesterday’s Cabinet meeting and that she had provided further insight into what contributed to the challenges.
Gonzales has promised there will not be a repeat of Tuesday’s crowds come July 1.
He said there were contributing factors, such as the “long weekend which was compounded by Monday’s public holiday and the 19-hour lockdown, that resulted in the cheques being delayed.”
Asked if TTPost would be installing social distance markers six feet apart on the pavements or streets where their offices are located, he said no.
Gonzales also pleaded to T&T Electricity Commission (T&TEC) and Water and Sewerage Authority’s (WASA) customers to pay their bills online.
Accepting some people were not prepared to do that, he said this was the struggle they had been facing. He urged the elderly to get someone to help them pay bills online if they were not capable of doing so.
Meanwhile, Police Commissioner Gary Griffith said while the majority of people in public are adhering to the Public Health Regulations, there are a few who continue to flout the law by not wearing masks and congregating in numbers over five.
Pointing to Tuesday’s incident where TTPost offices in Port-of-Spain and San Fernando were forced to close, Griffith assured that, “Just as we did on Monday, we will be out as usual on Thursday.”
Today is the Corpus Christi public holiday and with a 19-hour curfew due to go into effect from 10 am, Griffith is expecting tomorrow’s crowds will be similar to the numbers that were moving around on Tuesday following the Indian Arrival holiday.