Tuesday 17 November, Honiara – The Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI) in its consultation with the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) emphasizes that businesses in Honiara City can operate as normal on polling day this week without fear for their safety.
Voters in Central Honiara and North East Guadalcanal Constituencies goes to the poll on Wednesday 17 November, 2020 in by-elections and Government has earlier declared a public holiday only for voters in both constituencies.
As an outcome of a recent SICCI/RSIPF Executive Group meeting on October 29, the Chamber hosted a Business Luncheon early this week (Monday 16 November) where a team from the RSIPF led by Police Commissioner, Mr Mostyn Mangau made presentations to the members of the business community.
Police Commanders for both Honiara City and Guadalcanal Province updated SICCI members on Police operations in Honiara City and North East Guadalcanal for the by-elections.
“Safety and security are important in maintaining business confidence and as a Chamber we acknowledge the partnership with RSIPF for taking the time to update our members,” SICCI CEO, Ms Natalina Hong, said.
“A peaceful by-election will be of significance for the economy especially at a time when we’re already facing difficult times as a result of the global pandemic and it will be good for our businesses and country as a whole.
“SICCI is supportive of the RISPF and all Government entities as we look forward for clean, fair and peaceful elections this week,” she said.
Police Commander for Honiara City, Mr George Paikai highlighted that threat assessment for Honiara City is low, however, Police will remain vigilant for possible disturbances.
There are around 15, 000 registered voters in Central Honiara and 36 polling stations.
Mr Paikai said RSIPF has deployed 354 officers for the by-election operation in Honiara City including 119 officers at the polling stations.
“The rest are tactical and supporting officers doing high visibility patrols around the commercial areas and areas with important infrastructure.
“Our tactical team has two components. The first respondents will be the Central Respond Unit (CRU) while the Police Response Team (PRT) has been on standby 24/7 since Monday night,” he said.
The Police Commander encourages private firms and business houses to take precautionary measures and arrange security at their premises and properties which would be of assistance to Police resources.
He said a Police operation centre for the constituency is situated at Tetere for the purpose of coordinating Police activities during polling in North East Guadalcanal.
Meanwhile, Chief Electoral Officer, Mrs. Jane Waetara clarified that public offices and business houses operating within the boundary of North East Guadalcanal and Central Honiara constituencies who wishes to open their normal business hours on 18th November, must note that, the labor Act prescribed that any person who works on a gazette public holiday shall be paid on holiday rates.
“Offices and businesses outside the two constituencies boundary should go on normal day-to-day business operation as the public holiday does not apply to them.
“Voters who are working for businesses that are located outside the boundaries of these two constituencies will have to make special arrangement with their respective companies’ human resource management to find time to vote,” Mrs. Waetara said.
Section 116 of the Electoral Act 2018 has also provided for employers to release employees who seeks to release to vote on election day. Failure to allow employees to vote is an election offence.
Employees regardless of where they work in or outside these two constituencies boundaries, they must consult and make arrangements with their employers if they want to vote on election day.
Failures to release employees is an election offense and is liable to a penalty of 10,000 dollars fine.
In a statement earlier this week, RSIPF Commissioner, Mr Mostyn Mangau called on all citizens, including chiefs, elders, church leaders and all women, men and youth leaders of the two constituencies to assist Police in ensuring that our communities remain safe and peaceful during the by-election.
“About 500 police officers will be deployed to polling stations in the two constituencies and on the streets of Central Honiara to ensure the polling on Wednesday this week is done peacefully and that registered voters are allowed to cast their votes without any fear of violence,” says Commissioner Mangau.
SICCI, as the peak body representing private sector in the country, supports the call for candidates and supporters to remember our responsibilities as leaders during this period of voting and observe rules and regulations under the Electoral Act to make sure the voting is done lawfully.