ROAD Accident Fund (RAF) chief executive Eugene Watson has promised to provide three walk-in centres in the Eastern Cape to assist claimants who currently have to drive several hours to access the province's only office in East London.
Watson said countrywide there were only five regional offices – in Gauteng, Eastern Cape, Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga.
He said they were in the process of introducing new walk-in centres, but could not say when these would be available.
"We are still evaluating. The Eastern Cape is one of the bigger provinces with towns like Port Elizabeth, East London, Mthatha and Bhisho, so we need to plan carefully," he said.
Watson was speaking ahead of the fund's visit to Mthatha on Saturday when they are expected to assist claimants with processing and paying out claims at the Mthatha City Hall.
The last time the RAF was in the province, they paid R20-million for claims in Mdantsane in one day.
More than 180 people are expected to be paid out in Mthatha.
The claims expected to be paid out are those which were lodged by claimants or their families without involving lawyers, something Watson said they encouraged.
He said currently one in five claims was lodged directly with them and although it would be wrong to assume all lawyers cheated beneficiaries out of their money, it was better when claimants approached the RAF directly.
Another concern was that people took too long to file claims. "The sooner they claim the better. We can get accident reports and hospital releases easier when you do it sooner. The purpose of the money is to support you after the accident so that your family doesn't have to suffer," he said.
According to Watson, direct claims currently take up to one year when an individual is claiming for injuries; about three months when a claim involves death, but it can go up to three years when it is done through lawyers.