Papua New Guinea population census marred by delays

The rollout of the 2024 national census in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville has been postponed by a week due to the late arrival of census materials in Buka.

Papua New Guinea’s national census has got off to a rocky start with reports reaching RNZ Pacific that training of enumerators is still yet to be completed in parts of the country and delays to the distribution of electronic tablets that were supposed to be used in the count.

Earlier this week PNG’s national statistician John Igitoi said counting is expected to pick up in the coming days.

Bougainville government’s (ABG) provincial census coordinator Michael Omepa said the final tier training for Bougainville census officials is happening this week following the arrival of the materials.

“Due to delays in the freighting of materials, the Autonomous Region of Bougainville will postpone its 2024 Census by one week,” Omepa said in a statement.

According to the ABG, the enumeration process is set to begin next week after the conclusion of this training across 39 training venues

The government said field gear and census materials will be dispatched to all districts ahead of the actual enumeration process.

“Officers from both the National Statistical Office (NSO) and the ABG Department for Community Development are working tirelessly around the clock to sort and dispatch the materials by the end of this week,” Omepa said.

The last national census in Papua New Guinea was held in 2011.

The Census officially started on the 17 June and will run up until the end of this month.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister James Marape said the government was fully committed to supporting it financially in order to achieve better outcomes.

The original budget for the census was K300 million, but it was later cut down to K157 million, Marape said according to the National Broadcasting Corporation PNG’s report.

“We are conscious about the cost, whatever the cost is, in my view we must spend to get the quality data. Previous census has been conducted at the cost of over K400 million but this time we want to keep it to a modest rate considering the prices of goods and services,” the prime minister said.

RNZ Pacific PNG correspondent Scott Waide said the PNG government has set an itself impossible deadline of two weeks that census workers have to go through.

“There will obviously be a delay in many parts of the country because PNG is a big country, people live in very rural communities, some places are hard to get.

“So two weeks for an urban center is workable, [but] two weeks for rural centers in the provinces near impossible.”

Waide said the tools for data collection have not arrived at their detination.

“For places like Lae and Port Moresby, workers have gone out with forms to collect data, now that data as you can imagine will have to be inputted into an electronic system manually.

“The tablets that were bought…the contract awarded to a unknown non-communication contractor out of India, Max industries, haven’t yet reached the people who are supposed to do the work.

“From today’s media reports, most of them are still sitting in a warehouse in Port Moresby so that’s been very frustrating for people all over the country.”

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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