PNG Post-Courier: Census fiasco – why the poor planning, poor vision?

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PNG Post-Courier
PNG Post-Courier on the National Census 2024 - first since 2011. . . "We are amazed that despite the public holiday yesterday, which was announced by PM James Marape to allow the public servants to have the day off so they can be counted, has become a failure." Image: PNG Post-Courier

EDITORIAL: PNG Post-Courier

We support Count Me In 2024. It is an important national census event for Papua New Guinea. It is supported by the government. And the people support it too.

The National Census will provide us with up-to-date live data on our population which is needed for planning now and into the next decade.

However, we are amazed that despite the public holiday yesterday, which was announced by Prime Minister James Marape to allow the public servants to have the day off so they can be counted, has become a failure.

PNG POST-COURIER
PNG POST-COURIER

Why? Because most of the provinces including four heavily populated areas have yet to receive their full counting materials.

This amounts to poor planning, poor vision, and poor foresight on the part of the holiday-happy PM and his Administrative Minister Richard Masere.

They did not see that Count Me In is in for a long count when the material is late, training not completed, and the technology and gadgets don’t add up for this very important national event.

Meanwhile, taxpayers will pick up the cost of the extra holiday that Marape ubiquitously granted to his public servants yesterday.

Out in the field, members of the public noted that the tablets supplied for enumerators were not used. The counters were asked why. They responded that the tablets did not have the applications necessary for them to compile the information collated.

This is despite a K17 million (NZ$7 million) contract to Indian firm Max Industrials whose CEO Max Pandey said he has paid for and delivered 22,000 tablets to the National Statistical Office to carry out the work.

If the tablets were delivered, then why are these gadgets inoperable? What type of gadgets are these, where were these manufactured, were these tablets tested, and have they ever been used before in a census?

Are they from a recognised brand? This is a national census and we cannot afford to get it wrong. We have waited 14 years to hold this event.

It is therefore interesting to note that the contract for the supply of tablets was signed last week for a major event that started on Sunday this week.

Just like everybody, we are curious about this fiasco, why materials are late and tablets are not functioning?

The progress of events doesn’t make sense. Despite the Secretary for Finance and the Minister for Administrative Service giving their assurance that all processes were followed, it just does not add up.

We all want to be counted. We all want to be visible. We all want to be recognised as citizens of Papua New Guinea.

The population count has been outstanding since the last one in 2011. More babies have arrived, more heads, more mouths to feed in a country with rising costs of living, and extra turnover of migratory people of all walks of life, national and trans-national all over the country.

We hope that Count Me In will be concluded successfully, given the country’s rugged terrain and challenges, the far-flung coral islands and the lack of national road links.

We hope, we just hope we might all get numbered!

PNG Post-Courier editorial published 19 June 2024 under the headline “Counting fiasco”. Published with permission.

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