The Ghana School Feeding Progamme (GSFP) says caterers in nine regions have been paid their outstanding arrears for the third term of the 2021 academic year.

The regions include; Volta, Oti, Bono, Ahafo, Western North, Savannah, North East, Ashanti and Bono East.

According to the Head of Public Relations for the School Feeding Secretariat, Alfa Siiba, the payment started last week for caterers who had worked for the full 68 working days for the third term of the 2021 academic year.

“We have started [payment], since last week. As we speak, we have been able to pay Volta, Oti, Ahafo, Bono, Savannah, North East and Western North; that was as of last week. We’ve completed payment of two more regions just yesterday [Monday] – Ashanti Region and Bono East.

“Currently, we have been able to settle arrears of caterers for nine regions. The arrears we are talking about are for third term of 2021 academic year,” he told JoyNews in an interview on Tuesday, June 14.

The third term arrears was about ¢234 million. Mr Siiba added that the Secretariat is already putting together the total arrears for the first of the 2022 academic year.

His comments come after some caterers under the programme threatened to abrogate their contracts, following months of arrears owed by government.

The caterers who are still on strike after several attempts to get their two-term arrears paid were unsuccessful.

They have also been demanding an increase in the money paid to them from ¢0.98 to ¢3 per child, citing the soaring cost of food prices on the market as major challenges affecting their services.

Their situation has been compounded by suppliers harassing them for their monies.

In an interview with JoyNews, the Spokesperson for the Greater Accra regional branch of the School Feeding Caterers Association, Samuel Lartey, said many of his members have sank into depression as a result.

“So, most of the caterers say they can’t go and prepare anything because they don’t have what to eat, not to talk of what to go and prepare. Someone has even died because of this thing as I am talking to you.

“A woman recorded the voice of one of her debtors. You can imagine the way this woman was insulting the caterer – the caterer was like she can’t do anything; she wants to even ‘eliminate’ herself. Majority are not preparing food because they don’t know where to go for the money,” he said.

He added that a promise by the Secretariat to pay them in May 2022 is yet to materialise, forcing many to consider abrogating their contracts.

“From the way things are going, if they can’t sustain this thing, it will collapse because when it gets to certain level, I am not sure they will continue.”