The first day of the voter registration exercise ongoing nationwide has been marked by the anticipated concerns about faulty machines, long queues and a lack of social distancing amidst the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Across Ghana’s 16 regions, there are 6,788 clusters made up of five registration centres each.
Some of these centres like the City Engineers registration centre at the Ashiedu Keteke District in Accra saw hundreds of persons stranded because of the late start of the process.
Finishing the process as early as possible was the goal of a lot of registrants who showed up at registration centres the night before, in some cases, to begin queueing.
At a centre in New Juaben in the Eastern Region, a Majority of residents, according to Citi News checks, started arriving at centres from 3 am just to avoid long queues.
“The social distancing too was okay. There were no delays. Everything was smooth so I am okay. The safety of everybody is assured,” one woman said.
Another welcomed the special treatment the elderly were getting.
“One thing that delights me most is the fact that the elderly have been given a place to sit and they have a dedicated person who calls them and deals with them.”
Lack of social distancing
But concerns over the lack of social distancing are expected to feature heavily in the assessment of the first day of the exercise.
In the Sabulu electoral area in Nima for example, one Registration officer, Alex Kwame Aklade, said all efforts to make the registrants observe the social distancing directive have been ignored.
“They are humans. One way or the other, they flout the rules, but we still talk to them,” he told Citi News.
“The policemen are also here to support us… I will talk to him to make sure they abide by the rules; social distancing and the other things,” he added.
Speed of the process
In the Volta Region, among other locations, there were concerns about the speed of the processes from residents.
But the officers feel the process has been up to scratch.
“As we started, we expected everything to work normal and has been working normal and everything is working normally and everything is moving smoothly,” Nyadror George, a Registration officer at one of the Centres in Ho said.
Despite the confidence from the EC officers, registrants in places like Ashaiman were upset and attributed the slow pace of registration to inadequate equipment.
Some of the centres visited by Citi News had just two verification machines which some residents felt was contributing to the lack of social distancing.
“There are two machines. There is also no social distancing amongst us. How can these two devices cater for all of us?”
There was some confusion at Gomoa Ojobi Polling station in the Gomoa East District of the central region after some individuals who had joined a queue accused EC officers of extortion.
A journalist’s phone was also seized by the EC officers.
“This is the same thing that happened during the Ghana Card registration exercise. Bribes were taken from applicants before they were registered,” a resident fumed.