The Member of Parliament (MP) for North Tongu in the Volta Region, Mr Samuel Okudzeto- Ablakwa, has appealed to stakeholders and corporate organisations to support the Electoral Commission (EC) with chairs to enforce social distancing protocol at the various registration centres.
He said the provision of basic items such as single-seat chairs by MPs, churches, traditional leaders, assembly members, businesses and non-profit organisations (NGOs) would allow for spacious seating arrangements in line with the one-metre social distancing protocol and also ensure an orderly registration process.
It was his belief that that would go a long way to prevent the registration exercise from becoming “a jungle system that will be a recipe for disaster in infection rates”.
“Let us see the provision of single-seat chairs such as plastic chairs for the registration exercise as our collective responsibility to combat the spread of the coronavirus; it does not necessarily have to be the EC alone because COVID-19 is real and deadly,” he stated.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic after visiting some of the 13 registration centres in his constituency last Tuesday, Mr Okudzeko-Ablakwa said the use of benches made it very difficult to maintain social distancing.
He, however, said the use of plastic chairs would make it easier to enforce social distancing.
During the visit, there was some orderliness at most of the polling stations and that was made possible through the use of mostly plastic, metallic and wooden single-seat chairs.
Recipe for disaster
Mr Okudzeko-Ablakwa said the EC had probably not made arrangements to rent plastic chairs or “look for communities that have them” to carry out the 38-day registration exercise.
“This is an area that we should pay attention to because when you do not have single-seat chairs arrangement per the one-metre rule, it becomes a milling crowd as people struggle to be served first and that is a recipe for disaster,” he stated.
The MP expressed gladness at the smooth manner in which the registration process was carried out without any violence on the first day in his constituency.
He was optimistic that the plastic chairs he personally donated to the various communities in the North Tongu Constituency largely contributed to the enforcement of social distancing at the polling centres.
“This is a good lesson the EC, MPs, churches, NGOs, assembly members and other stakeholders should consider.
“Do we want a situation where we do not get involved and contribute our quota and we leave the burden for one institution, the EC or one political party, and then there is an outbreak of the pandemic and our constituencies become epicentres and we live with the consequences of having a mass infestation?” he asked.