By ALISON ANIS
COUNTING for the nine zones in the National Capital District was affected when more than 1,000 census officers chose to take a day off in protest over the non-payment of their daily field allowances, The National reports.
And a ward councilor for Rigo Inland has condemned their decision to leave their posts over the delay in the payment of allowances, saying officers working outside the urban centres had a tougher task to perform but never complained.
Frustrated zone coordinators had to leave their "control centres" at noon yesterday after receiving complaints from field officers wanting to know why the payments had been delayed.
The National spoke with field coordinators and officers from the four zones in NCD, who said some were frustrated and left for home while a few chose to continue the enumeration.
"There was a sit-in protest yesterday by our officers who refused to carry out the enumeration until they received their payments. They waited until 1pm for the payments and left the field when they were advised the payments were not ready," NCD zone two chairman Phillip Tiki said.
Zone three coordinator Julius Bakaman said: "The daily allowances are supposed to cover for our lunches during the enumeration."
Zone two covers Waigani, Gerehu, Morata, UPNG, Ensisi and Erima. Zone three covers Tokarara and Hohola.
Field officers in zone eight, covering 6-Mile and Boroko, were told to do as they pleased after they also raised similar complaints.
Counting was aborted in Bomana, 8-Mile, ATS Compound, Laloki, Tete settlement and Fisherman Island.
A senior officer with the NCD census team said the cheques had been released yesterday and the officers would be getting paid soon.
Ward councillor for Rigo Inland Alex Apore criticised the NCD officers for abandoning their work "when they were in a privileged position to do the counting".
"I cannot believe these people are crying out for daily allowances when they have access to everything, including transport," he said.
"Here, in the most difficult part of Central, our coordinator and his officers walk 40-50km everyday to collect people's data and not even a single complaint had come from them," Apore said.
He said for places such as Doro-Bisoro and Mt Maria, which could not be reached by vehicles, interviewers and their supervisors had to walk for up to three days.
"Allowance is not an issue here because that will come later. We want to do the job for our country and, if people can use that kind of thinking, everything will progress well," Apore said.