Fiji Elections: MOU to formalise free transport on election day

The Fijian Elections Office today signed an MOU with the Land Transport Authority, the Ministry of Rural and Maritime Areas as well as the Ministry of Transport in Suva to provide free transport for voters on election day which may be held any time between 7 December and 4 January.

Unlike the previous two elections in 2014 and 2018 when transport was arranged and provided by the Fiji Buses Operators Association, the coordination for the provision of transport for the 2022 General Election is being handled by the Fijian Elections Office. The FEO has the support of the aforementioned state agencies formalised via the signing of the MOU at the FEO Office in Toorak, Suva with a view to ensuring that the election is organised in an efficient manner consequently improving voter turnout.

“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.”

To this end, the FEO drew up a transportation plan, undersigned by the state agencies, which among other things considers the transportation services that are best suited to the needs of each polling location, equated against the availability of the transport mechanism and with that, the organization of a suitable mechanism to monitor that the services will be available. 

The MOU paves the way for the FEO to work with the already established government machinery on the ground such as Advisory Councilors and Turaga Ni Koro’s ensuring that the ideal transportation means is available and turns up at each locality as organised.

“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. This initiative will surely contribute positively towards creating greater access for voters to polling stations on Election Day.”

The final “Free Public Transportation on Election Day 2022” booklet that will guide the provision of transport on election day is expected to be ready on 5 December ahead of the election day.

Photo Source: FEO

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