UNMIL to Airlift Ballots to Hard-to-Reach Counties

GEEBEOR TOWN, Grand Bassa – The National Elections Commission has revealed that UNMIL will transport ballots for next Tuesday’s presidential and representative elections by air to counties that are impassable by road.

NEC Chairman Jerome Korkoya made the made the disclosure recently at the commission’s regular press briefing.

“We are pleased to report that UNMIL has graciously agreed to airlift electoral materials to the following hard-to-reach areas,” Korkoya said.

He said the counties would include Gbarpolu, Lofa, Nimba, Grand Gedeh, Grand Kru, Maryland and River Gee. He praised the UN mission for its intervention, terming it as ‘timely.’

However, some voters in areas such as Grand Bassa’s fifth electoral district, whose ballots will be delivered by road, are concerned about whether their electoral materials will arrive on time.

Traveling between Grand Bassa and River Cess has become a significant challenge because of the bad roads. From Yarpah Town, River Cess to Buchanan, Grand Bassa typically took takes up to two hours, however, some travelers now end up spending a day or more on the road because their vehicles frequently get stuck in the mud along the route.

A tour of the route this past weekend revealed close to impassable areas along the road such as Geebeor Town, where a large truck has become stuck in the mud in the middle of the road, blocking the free flow of traffic.

Logging truck stuck in the mud between Grand Bassa and River Cess. Photo: Eric Opa Doue

About 15 kilometers from the scene, another truck was also incapacitated and sat in the middle of the road. Cars from Buchanan were turning around to use a road that goes through the Equatorial Palm Oil plantation as an alternative route.

The state of the road has created concerns in the minds of some voters about how election materials will be transported to the harder-to-reach areas in time for next week’s vote.

Peter Nahn, a 77-year-old man, told The Bush Chicken that he is worried about the condition of the road, as elections draw near.

“My big worry is the way the road is looking,” Nahn said. “How the people will carry the voting materials on this side.”

Korkoya, NEC’s chairman, had earlier announced the arrival of 3,053,435 presidential ballot papers. He revealed that the second batch of ballots, which are for the representative elections were expected to arrive from Ghana on September 28.

Although it is not yet known whether the second batch of ballot papers has arrived, the NEC chairman has revealed that a total of 3,112,725 were expected to be in the country for the representative elections.

He said each of the 5,390 polling stations across the country would receive a total of 550 presidential ballots and 550 representative ballots, in keeping with ‘practice.’

According to him, the excess of 88,935 or three percent of presidential and 148,226 or seven percent of representative ballot papers would be used for contingency allowance.

Featured photo by Eric Opa Doue. Gbatemah Senah contributed to this article.

Eric Doue

Eric Opa Doue is a co-founder of Echo Radio Station, which does a series of programs in Bassa, Kru, and simple Liberian English. Under his leadership, Echo Radio was selected as one of the Moody Radio global partners for training opportunities in 2013 and 2014. Eric was one of a handful of reporters who received training from Internews in 2015 on humanitarian reporting during the Ebola outbreak in Liberia. He holds a diploma in Journalism, from the Ghana Institute of Journalism.

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