Retired soldiers say GAF press release is ‘false & misleading’

Sep 9, 2021, 1:55 PM | Article By: Momodou Jawo

Retired soldiers of Intake 30, who are currently demanding their unpaid allowances from The Gambia Armed Forces (GAF) have described the press release from the army,

claiming that 80% of the affected soldiers have been paid their benefits as “false and totally misleading”.

The affected soldiers who served 12 years in the Army are demanding their gratuity, leave encasement and WAPPS to be paid to them in full. They have also vowed to hold a press conference on Monday.

The Army in a press release issued last month, informed that the affected soldiers were paid 80% of their full benefits, “whilst the payments for the remaining 20 percent are being processed to be paid as soon as possible.”

“Perhaps it is instructive to state that the processing of retirement benefits and refunds for public servants including members of the Armed Forces requires diligent bureaucratic process which cannot be circumvented.”

“Besides, the process also involves the participation of various government institutions and functionaries at different levels and times. Equally, the output of one institution becomes the input for the other which makes the possibility of processing all these benefits simultaneously very remote.”

Meanwhile, a retired soldier who was part of a meeting held at Wellingara and spoke anonymously, said: “Some of our members only received the first phase of the payment, while others received two, but others don’t receive anything from the army.”

“One of our members received his leave entitlement and gratuity. For the gratuity, that individual only received D13, 700 plus, while for the leave encasement, he received D12, 000 plus.”

“We want the army to give us a breakdown of each of the payments that we are supposed to get. When we ask the army director of finance to give us the breakdown of this payment, he refuses and starts giving us excuses and warns that we the affected soldiers should stop even asking them about this breakdown.”

“We feel that there is no transparency in the entire process. You can’t just send money to our accounts without telling us the purpose of the money. If they give us the breakdown, then we will be able to calculate and know what we are supposed to get since we joined the army. We also want to know why it should take us four months before we can get our money.”

Another intake 30 member also said: “Knowing our entitlement is paramount to us. We want to know exactly what we are supposed to be paid. We want to know how much we are supposed to be paid when it comes to leave encasement, gratuity and WAPPs.”

“We are hearing from our colleagues who received their money. Most of them tell us that they receive D9000 or D10, 000 or 13, 000. However, what surprised us is that you will not know as to which of the benefits those monies cover.”

“We want the army to tell us as to which money is for the leave encasement, gratuity and WAPPS. If D10, 000 is for gratuity, they should be able to explain to us that yes it is for that. You can’t just pay D26, 000 and tell us that it is the money that we are supposed to receive without giving us a breakdown.”

“We also make our findings from intake 29. However, many of them told us that if the entire amount is calculated, one is entitled to receive D40, 000 to D50, 000.”

A member of intake 30 who also received his monies, said: “I can confirm receiving D13, 724 as gratuity. I also receive D12, 850 which I believe is the leave encasement. However, I didn’t receive anything with regard to WAPPS.”

“When I calculated these, I said to myself that these people are joking. I have the privilege to discuss with some retired soldiers of intake 29 and 28. What most of them told me is that they received about D26, 000 or D27, 000. However, for us, the highest is D13, 000. Therefore, we think there’s foul play. We put this question to the CDS but he could not answer it.”

“We are all Gambians and we want to tell the people that this country belongs to all of us because we are also citizens. This is the country where our families are and this is the country that we know. So we don’t intend to do anything in this country.”