Kampala, Uganda | URN | The heavy rains that started at 8:00 am disrupted voting in different parts of Kampala and Entebbe as several polling officials, agents and voters rushed to take shelter in nearby shops, schools and churches.
At St. Mbaaga Primary school polling station in Kiwatule where voting stated around 8:00 am heavy rains forced the exercise to stop at 8:30 am.
Polling officials covered ballot papers with black polythene bags and turned transparent boxes turned upside down to prevent water from spoiling the ballots already cast.
Although the polling stations are located on the school compound, the classrooms are closed. The polling officers and voters remained stranded with ballot boxes on the verandahs.
At Batalazi’s building at Kasana stage in Kisasi with four polling stations, elections also stopped as polling agents and officials took shelter in the nearby buildings. The situation was the same in Rubaga division where voting had started early.
At Victorious primary school polling station in Rubaga North, polling agents and officials rushed to the nearby shops for shelter as they waited for the rain to stop.
Some ballot papers fell in stagnant water as the officials rushed for shelter. The Presiding Officer, Joshua Wasswa told this publication that the ballot papers are still reusable because they were quickly picked before they were completely soaked by water.
“The exercise has been affected and it’s almost now an hour of raining and people have also stopped coming for now,” Waswa said.
At St Lule Church polling station in Kabuusu, polling agents and voters have converged on the verandas of the church because of the rain. At Ndejje University parking polling station, the agents carried the voting materials to the University verandahs to prevent them from rain.
At Makerere university Nsibirwa polling station, voting had to be moved inside the hall because of the rain. An attempt to ensure that voting continues by use of umbrellas and polythene bags didn’t work.
Rain equally disrupted voting at different polling stations in Kampala Central Division. Voters who had arrived at City House polling station dispersed to take shelter in the nearby business premises.
Officials at polling stations like at National Theatre, Railway Grounds were seen making use of umbrellas in order to keep watch of the voting materials. At Kamwokya Community polling station, voters were seen in the line with umbrellas going ahead with the voting process.
At Jambula Polling station located at Bugolobi market, voting stopped at 8:55 am after only two people cast their votes. Marvin Kashija, the presiding officer at Jambula Polling station, says they stopped voting to protect the ballots from the heavy rain. “If the ballots get wet it might affect the ink used. So we have stopped until it stops raining,” he said.
At Kawempe Mbogo Zone, voting at five Polling stations was also interrupted. Voters braved the rain to cast their ballot. A few voters who had carried their umbrellas pulled them out and offered shelter to others. Polling assistants also used the few umbrellas available at the polling stations and tarpaulin to shield themselves against the rain.
Saidat Sebulime, a voter says some of the ballots were getting damaged after getting wet. She says voting should have been stopped earlier so that it can resume after the rain has stopped.
In Entebbe rain equally disrupted elections. Some polling officials proposed that Electoral Commission plans for the rains next time by either getting umbrellas, tents or even securing Government buildings for the voting exercise.
Sam Katerega, a polling assistant at A-M Polling station in Bunonko-Misoli Village Kigungu Parish, says the Electoral Commission should have provided tents due to the looming rains.
In Makindye division polling started late amidst delayed delivery of ballot papers and the rains. The most affected are voting area like St. Paul Primary School with 16 polling station, St. Dennis SSS with 11 and Mubarak with 5.
Ivan Munanura, the Makindye Division Elections Administrator, says voting delayed to start at some polling stations because of the early morning rain.
Hassim Abubaker, the presiding officer at Green Hill parking yard polling station, says voting was delayed by the rain. Open place, Kibuye primary school, hospital grounds A, St. Augustine & Mubiru at Golden Angels primary school, Valley at Munyonyo, Central A-C at St. Peter’s Secondary school and Serwadda at Buziga Hill primary school are some of the few polling stations that opened early.
Darius Barigye is the presiding officer at Mugwanya Ntuuse polling station a St. Paul Primary School in Makindye west Kampala district. He said voters who turned up early for voting were delayed by the rain as the polling station would not be set in the rain. At institution polling station A-M in Makindye East the voting process was also disrupted by the heavy rains.
The presiding officer Godwine Guma, said by 7 am the materials were ready but the rain hampered the setting up of the polling station, which made them delay. “As you see we are just arranging to start now and it’s half past 8 am,” Guma said. In Wabigalo parish Project zone polling station A-Z over 50 people had already cast their vote despite the interruptions by rains.
The presiding officer, Abubakari Hashim, said despite the rains voters were determined to cast their votes. “They’re determined as you can see them, it’s drizzling but they are voting,” Hashim said.