‘Queue for me for GH¢10’

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Potential voters at Weija Block Factory registration centre at 12 midnight could not help but sleep on the bench

As a sign of patriotism and zeal to get registered to partake in the up-coming December polls, thousands of potential voters have converted the biometric registration centres into makeshift hotels and rest houses where they pass the night.

There also has emerged a group of registration contractors who queue all day and night and sell their positions to some other prospective voters who cannot stand the rigorous exercise and often painful biometric registration exercise.

“It is these Space to Space boys; they wake up early to join the queue just to sell their positions to others at GH¢5.00 or GH¢10.00,” a visibly worried lady who gave her name as Maame Praah, told Today.

She alleged that several people who came after her had the opportunity to register ahead of her, because people who came in early to take up positions either ‘sold’ their positions to them or had relatives place calls ahead to registration personnel to register them when they arrive.

She also complained about the level of line-jumping protocol that has characterised the registration exercise from Day One at her registration centre.

Her concerns were corroborated by other prospective voters who had stormed the centre hours before the exercise began.

That notwithstanding, a member of the registration team however told this reporter that the “process has been very peaceful.”

A visit to the Block Factory registration centre in the Weija constituency of the Greater Accra Region by Today in the wee hours of Wednesday morning showed dozens of people sleeping at the location awaiting registration officials.

The long wait and difficulties associated with the registration process over the last several days is compelling potential voters to throng the centres in the night, many hours before 7:00 A.M., when registration is actually billed to start.

This reporter went to a registration centre in the Weija District at 4:00 A.M., only to find out that he is the 142nd person in line.

And our correspondents in the regions have also confirmed that story.

Another case in point is the case of Egya Kow and his wife, Auntie Mabel, who went to a registration centre in the Central Region at around 12 midnight to sleep there.

Around 4:00 A.M., they told Today, someone came along to distribute number cards, and he and his wife were 30th and 31st in line.  It was only then that they could return home for a bath and return to the centre refreshed.

Information we have picked up around the regions also indicate that because of the difficulties and long wait associated with the registration process, some people have resorted to all kinds of acts, including bribery which comes in various forms, to get registered on time.

In a specific instance one of our reporters witnessed at a biometric registration centre in Santa Maria here in Accra, the potential registrant bought malt and pie for the registration officers with the excuse of donating to refresh them for their hard work in the service of the nation.

A phone repairer, Nana Yaw, told this reporter that he arrived at the Block Factory Registration Centre at 12:00 midnight to avoid the long queue he saw during the day.

According to him, he wanted to join the long queue, so that he could go to work on time after sunrise.

“I decided to sacrifice my sleep this time around, but I was not even the first person at the centre,” Nana Yaw disclosed to this reporter.

Another person, Eli, who reported to the centre at around 2:00 A.M., said he wants the Voter ID card for purposes other than voting.  “My ID card is missing, so I need the Voter ID to open a bank account.  Maybe, just maybe I may vote in December, but that is not my aim for now,” he said.

Eli also disclosed that he has had to leave his actual registration centre, Sethdel School, to go about two kilometres away, Block Factory, Weija, to register, because of vexing problems at the centre  in his neighbourhood where he should done his registration.

“When my mother and I got to Sethdel School around 12:00 midnight, she was number 106 in line, so we decided to come here…”Eli disclosed adding, “Indeed, at the Sethdel School Registration Centre we met only five persons, but were told we are 106th and 107th in line.”  That, in his opinion, suggests that shady protocol go on there in the night.

Another frustrated potential voter lamented the slow pace of the registration accusing the Electoral Commission of employing the services of persons he considers “pensioners” to be registration officers.

“That old woman who operates the camera is a pensioner. She is the cause of all these delays at this centre. If we could get someone who is active, we can do well here,” she said.

STORY: KWAKU NTI

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