By Agnes Ansah & Bernice Bessey
Despite the numerous education provided by government agencies to ensure that people protect themselves while undertaking the voter registration exercise, The Chronicle can report that the social distancing rules were grossly disrespected.
The Electoral Commission commenced the voter registration exercise throughout the country yesterday.
A day to the commencement of the exercise, the EC boss, Madam Jean Mensah said Ghana has not beaten or curtailed the spread of the Covid-19.
Meanwhile, the exercise would require the gathering of a lot of people at a place which would increase the risk of the spread of the disease, hence the need for measures to guard against that.
She said the commission has taken the advice of best practice in curtailing the spread of the virus and outlined safety measure to be carried out in the various registration centers.
She said all registration centers would set up outdoor, as has been their practice and indicated where schools and churches are used as registration centers, camps would not be set inside the facilities, but outside, adding that furniture of such facilities would not be used and that the EC would use its own furniture.
She continued that all people entering the registration center would be required to wear facemasks and their temperature taken by health officials at the center.
The commission would also provide equipment for the mandatory washing of hands before joining the queue, as well as the strict adherence to physical distance of at least one meter in the queues. She added that the Ministry of Health has attached 7,000 health assistants to each registration centers.
She then indicated that all these efforts would be fruitless if the public does not corporate with them.
“In all of these we will rely on your cooperation, dear citizens. We believe and know that it would not be easy, but with your compliance, we should be able to carry out all the registration procedures.”
The Chronicle can indeed testify to that fact most of these measures outlined by the EC boss were evident at the registration centers we visited, including the Alajo and Kotobabi Down registration centers in the Ayawaso Central constituency and that of Christian Home School in Dansoman.
Most of the registration officers wore their facemasks and there were veronica buckets for the washing of hands, as well as health assistants who were on duty take temperatures of registrants who entered the center.
However, this paper can confidently report that in some instances the words of the EC boss were thrown to the dogs by the number of people who thronged the various registration centers, as they did not observe the required social distance.
While some of them stood close to each other conversing and waiting for their turn, others were engaged in scuffles about who should go next, even though they were in a queue.
The most surprising incident of all was observed at the Assemblies of God registration centre in the Ablekuma West constituency in Dansoman, where an aged woman, who was struggling with a Veronica bucket, unconsciously ended up washing her hands in the waste water. This reporter had to prompt her about the danger she had exposed herself to.
Since the electoral officers were busily engaged in controlling the crowd, who refused any advice of observing the social distance rule, this reporter urged the old lady to wash her hands again, although she did so by just rinsing them.
Regardless of this, a substantial number of persons turned up to be registered at this centre, at the start of the six-day exercise at the centre.
At the time the paper visited the Christian Home School at round 10:30 am, more than 38 people had been registered while 47 and 62 persons had gone through a successful registration at Alajo and Kotobabi Down registration centers in the Ayawaso Central constituency respectively, as at 2:00 pm.
Mr Kwasi Bisiw, a Data clerk at the Christian Home School center indicated that they received the materials for the registration before 7:30am and that most of the electoral officers all reported to the registration centre at 5:45am to get the place prepared.
He described the new equipment for the registration to be very efficient, especially the finger print verification machine and said they were faster, as compelled to the pervious biometric registration and verification system.
He stated that majority of the registrants presented National Identification Cards while few used passports as requirements for their registration.
Mr Gladstone Agboada, one of the Supervisors for the Ayawaso Central constituency, who oversees some of the registration officers in the constituency, said he was satisfied with the process so far.
He said that though there were few delays emanating from machine failures and the registrants themselves, the process was very smooth and the turnout was very impressive.
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