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Bahamians continue to endure long lines at stadium

One day after promises of more organization at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium, some Bahamians again spent hours lined up in hopes of receiving overdue checks from the National Insurance Board (NIB) only to collect nothing.

Seaton Ferguson, 54, said he is grateful his family has been helping him because despite working for years, he hasn’t received anything from NIB since March.

“I’ve been here from 6 o’clock this morning, but I was waiting on a check from March,” he said on Wednesday.

“I ain’t get no check. From I put it in, I ain’t get no money yet. So, I’m still waiting to see if I can get the first something to get something started with.

“Other than that, my sister and family members were helping me out along the way.

“But I ain’t got a red cent from this started.”

When questioned about a number of similar claims outside Cabinet on Tuesday, Minister of Public Service and National Insurance Brensil Rolle insisted that it is only true in a small number of cases that some people have not received payments due to them from NIB for many weeks.

Ferguson said yesterday: “Well, I guess in that percentage of small numbers, I guess I’m inside that.”

He said the process has been frustrating from the start.

“…Every time you give National Insurance something, it’s like something is missing again,” he said.

“So, I’ve been here from March trying to get sorted out and I’m still here trying to get sorted out.”

John Kelly, 29, said he has received very little from NIB since he became unemployed in April as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I was working for over 10 years,” he said,

“I haven’t collected nothing yet. I just living off savings. They trying to kill us. I don’t know what’s going on. 

“I tired of it though.”

Kelly said he can only continue for so long and he’s nearing the end of his rope.

“I can’t take no more,” he said.

“That’s why I coming here all the time every day.”

Kelly said he applied and requested direct deposits to his bank account, but he’s still had to resort to waiting on long lines to try and receive a check.

“From the minute I was unemployed, during the beginning of this thing in April, I put in everything,” he said.

“I ain’t get nothing yet.”

However, NIB Director Nicola Virgill-Rolle insisted that most people receiving unemployment payments are successfully doing so through direct deposits to their bank accounts.

“The far majority of people who are paid NIB – we are paying just under 40,000 people right now…get their payments via direct deposit,” she said.

“And we have a limited number of people who chose not to give us banking information or gave us incorrect banking information. And so they receive their funds via check deposits. But its a very small number.

“As I checked today, we’ve done about 106,000 disbursements. And only 10,000 of those have been via check, since March 23.

“And we know that the majority of people on this line are not in receipt of checks. They may be checking for things or looking for queries…or they may be looking for other programs.”

Virgill-Rolle said some on the line may have been looking for the government’s unemployment extension program or the unemployment program for the self-employed. 

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Rachel Knowles

Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues. Education: University of Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish

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