Commodore J. V. Bainimarama, CF(Mil), OSt.J, MSD, jssc, psc
Prime Minister of Fiji and Minister for Finance, Strategic Planning, National Development and Statistics, the Public Service, People’s Charter and Change and Progress, Information, iTaukei Affairs, Sugar Industry and Lands and Mineral Resources

Thurs. 14th Mar., 2013

Ni sa bula vinaka and a very good afternoon to you all.

Thank you for the Guard of Honour accorded to me by Correction Services staff, who I want to thank for their dedication, often in trying circumstances.

It’s all too easy to forget the difficult conditions in which our staff operate and the challenges they face. The vast majority of prison officers do their jobs conscientiously and well and deserve the support of both the Government and the wider community.

Thank you also for the invitation to open this facility, which has taken more than two years to complete but is now fully operational. It’s the latest chapter in the history of the prison service in Taveuni, which happens to be a relatively brief one.

Nineteen years ago, in 1994, the police holding cells here – that could accommodate 10 remand prisoners - were converted into cell blocks for the Fiji Prison Service. Ten officers were assigned to Taveuni to operate the facility and 15 acres of land was allocated for the prisoners to farm.

It’s been like this for nearly two decades. But a rise in the prison population on the island has led to severe overcrowding and this new facility is long overdue.

As well as housing prisoners, the Taveuni complex has another important function. Because of the vast tracts of unutilized land on the island, it can supply dalo and other foodstuffs to prisons in VitiLevu and Vanua Levuunder the Fiji Corrections Service commercialization programme currently centred in Naboro.

We’re also examining the possibility of developing a commercial vegetable farm to supply the needs of international visitors at the increasing number of tourist resorts on Taveuni.

It’s no secret that there is severe over-crowding at other Corrections institutions in the country so we have looked to Taveuni to share some of the burden.

I’d like to thank traditional leaders on the island, as well as the Ministry for Lands, for agreeing to expand the Corrections site. It hasn’t been an easy decision but they made it for the common good.
Like all of us, they realise that looking after our prison population and trying to encourage them to be good citizens is a shared responsibility. Vinakavakalevu to all the Leaders for your support and goodwill.

At a total cost of $275,000, Taveuni today boasts one of the more modern Corrections facilities in the country with a capacity for 50 inmates. Cabinet has already approved the appointment of an extra 20 officers to resource the facility to an adequate level. The Centre also comes with 22 acres a farmland on which to grow crops.

On behalf of the Fiji Corrections Service, I appeal to the people of Taveuni for your full support, especially for the rehabilitation programs which will operate here. Our aim, as always, is not only to punish but to turn criminals into responsible citizens for the betterment of Fiji.

And we believe that it’s much better for prison inmates to be close to their families - rather than being isolated from them – to assist in this process.

To that end, I am honoured to declare the Taveuni Corrections Centre open.

Vinaka vakalevu. Thank you.