JIS News

The House of Representatives yesterday (Nov.16), commenced debate on amendments to the Transport Authority and Road Traffic Acts, which among other things, provide stiffer penalties for those in breach.Transport and Works Minister Robert Pickersgill, said the legislation served to give effect to government’s move to implement new measures to regulate transport operators and provide the necessary legal framework to deal with breaches of the Road Traffic Act.
He informed that there were some 20,000 illegal taxi operators island wide, who earned an estimated $9.6 billion each year. The activity of the illegal operators was causing losses of approximately $92 million to the Transport Authority, he said, noting that each legal operator was required to pay a licensing fee of $5,600 per year.
“The legal taxi operators are plagued by unfair competition from illegal operators plying their route,” the Minister noted further.
The Bills propose increases in fines for illegal taxi operators as well as licenced operators who refuse to work in accordance with the terms of their licences. The fines range from $25,000 for some offences to $250,000.00 or imprisonment for a term of not more than six months.
The legislation also seeks to address the seizure, storage and disposal of vehicles; the establishment of a new class of road licence called ‘route taxis’; the inclusion of route taxis to provide service in the exclusive licencing area; the introduction of a Transport Authority ticketing system; increasing fines under the Transport Authority Act and the Road Traffic Act and specific penalties for overweight vehicles.
According to Minister Pickersgill, the amendments were intended to safeguard government outflows, put protective measures in place for public transportation users and protect the investment made in the system in the long run.
Meanwhile, opposition members contended that the Bills were “inflexible” and recommended that they be sent to a Joint Committee of Parliament for further contemplation. Deliberations on the Bills will continue when the House reconvenes on Tuesday, November 23.

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