By Tabora Bojang
The Independent Electoral Commission has now said it is going to dispose of all obsolete electoral materials by burying them at the Bakoteh dumpsite in order to make space for new materials expected for the upcoming elections.
Vice chairman Joseph Colley disclosed this before a parliamentary joint committee on human rights, constitutional matters and local government, who tasked the IEC to explain what is responsible for the discovery of blank voter cards in the streets.
“We [IEC] have agreed that the previous way of disposal was not very much okay but we will make sure this time around everybody is on board. We have consulted with the KMC and they have given us permission to dig a hole at the Bakoteh dumpsite and we intend to bury the materials in the presence of the media, security personnel and political parties,” Colley explained.
He said with the exception of “marbles all other obsolete electoral equipment including blank electoral cards, wooden boxes and blank attestations” used in previous elections would be disposed of.
Mr. Colley added that the commission now awaits response from the National Disaster Management Agency which has been consulted to provide a “shovel” in carrying out the exercise.
Colley, who assumed the position of a vice chairman following the retirement of Malleh Sallah last year, stressed that the IEC would do its best to “make sure the electoral process of the country is very credible and acceptable.”
The IEC director of communication and training, Pa Makan Khan explained that the difficulties faced by the commission in disposing of the obsolete cards were compounded when residents of Kanifing “protested” against burning them.
“We tried to burn the blank cards behind the office premises of the IEC but being plastic materials, the [cards] generated a lot of smoke which was toxic. So the neighbourhood in Kanifing protested that we can’t burn the cards there because they are harmful and since then, we quenched the fire and tried to secure the materials. The operations [unit at IEC] went to Bakoteh dumpsite but we learnt that they are no more burning any rubbish and it was after this that the cards landed into some wrong hands,” Khan stated.
IEC chairman, Alieu Momarr Njai pleaded with the lawmakers to engage with the Ministry of Lands and Regional Government to provide the Commission with space, saying they are struggling to deal with the “low storage capacity.”
“We have nowhere to keep all these valuable materials especially when it comes to paper balloting,” chairman Njai lamented.