The National Election Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) transportation plan for the June 21 polls shows that it needs a total of 9,222 vehicles to transport election equipment to its 50,000 polling stations across seven regions.
A letter signed by the Chairwoman of the Board Birtukan Mideksa and sent out to Sidama, Benshangul Gumuz, Gambella, Amhara, Afar, South and Oromia regions requests the regional administrations to cooperate in transporting the equipment according to the transportation plans sent to them.
Accordingly, the Board requested the regional governments transport the equipment between June 16 and 18, 2021. The Board asked the regions to notify it through a letter that they would cooperate and they are prepared to render the services required.
According to the transportation plan, Hilux Pickup and Isuzu NPR vehicles are preferred forms of transportation for the equipment.
Accordingly, vehicles required from Sidama are 512, Benshangul Gumuz 152, Gambella 108, Amhara 2,281, Afar 336, South 1,892, and Oromia 3,941.
This plan by the Board follows its decision to extend the elections from June 5 to June 21, 2021 because of extended voter registration, according to official statements. The reasons for the stretched voter registration are delayed voter registration as a result of security and contestations.
Among the challenges the Board faced during voter registration was logistical hindrances manifested in the shortage of vehicles to transport equipment needed for voter registration. In a report the Board presented during a consultative meeting with political parties on April 14, 2021, it said that the price quoted by transporters to transport the equipment was too high and even those who showed willingness were not available when needed. Transporters asked up to 17 million birr to transport equipment in a single zone, in addition to shortage of transporters’ associations, the Board indicated.
As a ramification for these challenges, the Board recommended doing the distribution of equipment with capable and limited transporters as well as designating one transport company to one line for convenience of protection.
In a press briefing held on May 20, 2021 at De Leopol Hotel, Soleyana Shimelis, the Communications Advisor to the Board admitted to the delay in logistical services during voter registration. But she said this has shown improvement now because of improved cooperation from regional governments.
According to her, the transportation involves distributing equipment from 20 towns to 641 constituencies and then to the polling stations. This would take about four weeks, she added.
Soleyana also added that they have two transportation plans: one distributing equipment from the center to constituencies and from constituencies to polling stations. The former uses air and land transportation while the later uses animal, vehicle and boat transportations depending on the requirement.
The Board has also started second round disbursement of financial support from political parties amounting to 77.8 million birr. This is the remaining amount from the total of 98.6 million birr allocated for political parties support by the government.