NEWS

Covid Pass Sham

Known drug peddler caught with valid curfew pass. The man driving the vehicle had a curfew pass, valid until 27 August.
18 Aug 2021 12:42
Covid Pass Sham
Police search on Monday evening.

Police officers flagged concerns that some known drug peddlers were moving around during curfew hours with valid curfew passes, given by the Ministry of Health and Medical Services.

Officers shared their concerns with Police Commissioner Brigadier-General Sitiveni Qiliho.

He then directed officers to ensure every vehicle was checked at checkpoints.

This led to discovery by Southern Division police officer’s early hours of Monday morning of material for packaging and sale of methamphetamine in a vehicle.

The man driving the vehicle had a curfew pass, valid until 27 August.

Mr Qiliho confirmed this search and seizure by his officers.

He further shared concerns that officials at the Ministry of Health and Medical Services were issuing curfew and travel passes without properly vetting the individuals applying for it.

“I have directed that those passes that are suspicious in nature and abused be confiscated and users not allowed movement. We will clarify those with the MoH the next day during office hours and make strong recommendations on cancellations,” Mr Qiliho said.

He has also raised his concerns with Health and Medical Services Permanent Secretary Doctor James Fong.

Police officers have also raised concerns that several people are moving around with curfew passes valid until 2022.

Mr Qiliho further confirmed this and said there needed to be a system where passes were periodically reviewed, and stricter oversight was needed on those who were applying for such passes.

Health and Medical Services Permanent Secretary Dr James Fong said: “We have centralised the pass permit to a few people in IMT over the last two weeks following some examples highlighted to me. There is a critical business pass classification that can get long term passes, but I will need to investigate specific passes to see if there is any abuse or misuse in the issuance of passes.”

 

The passes:

There are several passes given to allow people to move from one containment area to another and to allow travel during curfew hours. These passes are provided by Health and Medical Services officials and are different from permits provided by the Ministry of Commerce, Trade, Tourism and Transport.

So far, no abuse of permits given by MCTTT have been noted.

MCTTT Permanent Secretary Shaheen Ali explained:

“The role of the Ministry of Commerce, Trade, Tourism and Transport (MCTTT) in issuance of passes is primarily to receive and assess requests by businesses, not individuals.

“When businesses apply through the COVID Pass Portal, MCTTT collates the necessary information and makes an assessment for the consideration of the Ministry of Health and Medical Services.

“Any and all individual passes, such as enter/exit/re-entry to containment zones, that are non-business related, are directly assessed by the Incident Management Team, based at the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS).

“This is to ensure health risks are considered and conditions outlined such as routine swabbing before the pass is issued is undertaken.”

 

Possible abuse by civil servants:

Questions remain how an increasing number of individuals are seen moving around in vehicles during curfew hours.

Permanent Secretary for Civil Service Susan Kiran, warned of the consequences in the event any civil servant is found to be illegally giving out movement passes to people.

“Any allegation or allegations on a breach of the Fijian civil service code of conduct by an employee is not taken lightly and requires a thorough investigation in line with the Fijian Civil Service Disciplinary Guideline. If a civil servant is found to be in breach of any of the provisions of the civil service code of conduct because of the investigation process, then necessary disciplinary action must be taken by the respective Permanent Secretary. The civil service code of conduct is stipulated in the Civil Service Act 1999,” she said.

Feedback: fonua.talei@fijisun.com.fj

 

 



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