By MALUM NALU
Voting for the Kairuku-Hiri by-election in Central got off to a slow start on Saturday with many people complaining of their names not being on the common roll.
The National visited polling stations at Doa Rubber Plantation along the Hiritano Highway and Eboa village in Mekeo to witness polling.
|Voters checking their names at Eboa.-Pictues by MALUMNALU|
|A woman receiving her voting ticket at Eboa.|
|Malo (second from left) and Tonari leading the protest at Doa.|
|A man checking his name in the electoral roll at Doa.|
|A woman casting her vote at Eboa village in Mekeo on Saturday.|
At Doa, plantation workers many of whom have worked there for many years, were disappointed to find their names missing.
Don Malo, a Southern Highlands plantation assistant manager who has worked at Doa for the last 25 years, led the protest.
“Some of us have more than 25-30 years and our names are not there,” he said.
“I’m no longer a Southern Highlander but a Central man.
“That’s the problem.
“Our names are not on.
“Last year, some of us voted, some of us didn’t vote.
“In this plantation, there are 6,000-7,000 people living here, but the common roll won’t reach 1,000.
Goilala planation labourer, Joe Tonari, concurred with Malo.
“We Goilalas have been here for a long time and don’t have our names on the common roll, which is very funny.”
East Kairuku local level government presiding officer, Oa Ure, admitted that there was a major problem on the common roll.
“We have a problem,” he said.
“Most of them (voters) are not on the common roll.
“There are supposed to be more than 6,000 eligible voters but they only recorded 1,300, so it’s a problem with the voters now.
“We’re hoping that the Electoral Commission or the district LLGs come good with the electoral rolls.
“We started off on a very low profile because we had scrutineer problems.
“The candidates’ scrutineers were not here until 8.30am.
“The voters are not interested like normal general elections.
“Most of these ones are plantation workers.”
At Eboa, presiding officer Henry Vuvuno said there were no major problems.
“Voting is going well,” he said.
“People are coming in and voting.
“The only problem is that people want to witness others voting, however, we’re stopping that.
“They should not witness voting.
“People should move away from the polling booths.
“We have 873 people on the ward roll here at Eboa.”