Statement by the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission
Mr Mukesh Nand
MOU Signing between Ministry of Rural & Maritime Development, MITT and Transport & Land Transport Authority
27 October 2022 @3.30pm
FEO Conference Room
The Supervisor of Elections Mr Mohammed Saneem
The Permanent Secretary for Ministry of Rural & Maritime Development
Permanent Secretary for Ministry of Commerce, Trade, Tourism & Transport
Board chair for the Land Transport Authority
Members of the media,
Ladies and gentleman,
Bula Vinaka and a very good afternoon to you all.
Pursuant to section 75 of the Constitution of the Republic of Fiji 2013, the Electoral Commission has the responsibility to conduct free and fair elections in accordance with written law governing elections in Fiji.
In section 3 of the Electoral Act, 2014, the Electoral Commission is permitted to make instructions consistent with this Act and the Constitution that are necessary for the transparent and orderly conduct of free and fair elections.
In this regard, it is noted that in 2014 and 2018, the Electoral Commission engaged the voluntary services of bus operators in Fiji to provide transportation on election day to members of the general public.
This arrangement did not involve any fixed schedules, payment arrangements and was largely based on the discretion of the operators. There are many locations (such as inner city and town roads and the distant rural locations) where bus services are not available. It was also noted that despite the availability of services in some areas, the turnout was lower than expected.
It is with this experience that the Electoral Commission formed its view in the early part of the election cycle that the Fijian Elections Office will need to directly plan, prepare, execute and monitor the provision of transportation services at the General Election.
Ladies and gentlemen, the FEO is placed at the most central position when it comes to determining the routes and requirements for each polling location.
Of course, it was noted that the FEO will have to organize transportation services that are best suited to the needs of each polling location. This has to also be equated against the availability of the transportation mechanism and coupled with that, the organization of a suitable mechanism to monitor that the services will be available.
As far as practicable, the FEO needs to allocate a transport that best works in the locality.
While the Electoral Commission left the minor mechanics of the arrangements to the FEO operations team, a few essential guiding instructions were given to the FEO.
The FEO can work with the already established government machinery on the ground such as Advisory Councilors and Turaga Ni Koro’s. Ideally, as far as practical, bus services in urban areas could at-least be on an hourly basis.
The other important expectation is that the transportation services will start as early as 7am and continue in higher frequency in the morning half of the day.
Ladies and gentlemen, this initiative will surely contribute positively towards creating greater access for voters to polling stations on Election Day.
I would like to thank all the agencies that have partnered with the FEO to deliver this essential component of the general election preparations.
We are going with a multi-stakeholder approach because we want to ensure that on Election Day the FEO is not spread too thin to handle some of these things and I would like to specifically thank the Ministries for helping out.
Thank you. Vinaka Vakalevu.