While the impasse between the Tobago House of Assembly and the Ministry of the People and Social Development continues, another problem has arisen.
The National Insurance Board (NIB) in Tobago, has been closed to members of the public for the past two weeks. Several Tobagonians have been visiting the office and have been turned away. Security officials stationed at the office said they were uncertain when the office will reopen.
Joseph Kerr, 80, of L'Anse Fourmi Tobago, walking with his cane, in pain, and on the verge of tears, expressed disgust at the situation.
"Because this is about the third time I am coming here, to get a letter to carry to the business people here. I can't get through," Kerr said.
One employee at the NIB, who wished not to be identified, said the sewer has also broken down on the mall, and the stench is unbearable, and this is not the first time this has happened
The NIB is responsible for the processing of several claims, ranging from funeral grants, maternity, retirement, life certificates, sickness and other claims. Questioned on the matter at his bi-monthly news conference yesterday, THA Minority Leader Ashworth Jack, said the matter is totally unacceptable.
"It is unacceptable that the NIB would allow aged persons in Tobago to have suffered this long. The actions should have been a lot swifter to find alternative accommodation," Jack said.
Investigations revealed members of the NIB, were in Tobago last Friday assessing the situation, and seeking alternative accommodation, but to date, the situation remains the same.
Meanwhile up to 112 applications for the elderly are up for review by the Public Assistance Board. Jack said he was calling on the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) to take the necessary authorities to court to end the impasse. No applications for senior citizens, public assistance or disability grants, have been reviewed for payment by the THA Department of Social Services, since January 17.
"You cannot allow persons who are needy and who qualify for senior citizens grants to suffer as a result of this," Jack said.