SUKKUR: “I have been coming here for last five days. But I’ve been kept waiting for hours, after which I go back home, emptyhanded,” Mai Shamul Shaikh, a resident of Waspur Muhalla, Old Sukkur, told The Express Tribune.
Hundreds of women like Mai Shamul Shaikh, who have been waiting for the first installment of Rs4,000 as compensation under the Benazir Income Support Programme, had similar stories to tell as they waited outside the Sukkur post office. Some claimed that the staff was just lazy while other complained of corruption.
“They (post office employees) don’t fear God. They are demanding that I pay them Rs500 in exchange for helping me obtain the first instalment,” said a woman in her late 70s while talking to other women at the post office.
“I paid them Rs200 and I will get Rs3,800,” another woman, in her 40s, told the group.
“It is better to pay a little to get more,” said another woman.
Meanwhile, there were others for whom every rupee counted. “I am badly in need of money because I have to clear my debt with the grocery shop owner,” said another elderly woman.
“A man took copies of my CNIC two hours ago and has yet to return,” said Ameeran Mirani, a resident of Katcha Bunder. When asked why she had handed over the photocopies to a stranger, she said that he was the postman, but she didn’t know his name.
“Everyone is in a hurry to get the first instalment and whoever fails to get the money levels allegations of corruption against our employees,” claimed General Post Office Sukkur chief post master Syed Ghulam Abbas Tahir. “Earlier, we had received complaints about postmen demanding bribes from the beneficiaries, which is why we decided to disburse this amount from the post office,” he added. Ruling out the allegations of corruption among his staff, Tahir said that “anyone who has concrete proof against my staff can come to me and I will see to it”.
On the other hand, BISP officials said that the women who are not flood survivors and have managed to obtain the first instalment of the Rs12,000 will have to pay it back as the programme is aimed at providing relief to only those who were affected in the floods.
According to the BISP directorate of the Sukkur and Larkana divisions, data regarding the beneficiaries of the programme has been updated and those who are not flood survivors will have to pay the Rs4,000 given to them back to the government in instalments of Rs1,000 every three months.
“Those who are not entitled to the money are making noise about corruption,” said Tahir, adding that the process was being run in a smooth and transparent manner.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 13th, 2010.
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