EVERALD Warmington, Member of Parliament for South West St Catherine, is challenging the police traffic department to produce evidence of its authority to ticket drivers on local toll roads.
Warmington made the challenge yesterday in an interview with Auto, after the head of the police traffic division, senior superintendent Radcliffe Lewis, was reported as criticising his statement in the House of Representatives on Tuesday that the practice is illegal.
"Until it is gazetted, the issuance of tickets on the highway is illegal," Warmington told the House, during debate on regulations introducing spikes on the Toll Roads to deflate the tyres of motorists trying to beat the toll.
There was no response to Warmington's claim in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, and no official reaction since from either the Ministry of Transport and Works or the police.
SSP Lewis has reportedly suggested that Warmington's argument is "unfortunate". However, he gave no reason for coming to his conclusion, nor did he quote the section of the Road Traffic Act or the Toll Road Act which gives the police such authority or respond to our attempts to clarify his position.
One senior cabinet member told Auto, yesterday, that he would be surprised if there is no answer to Warmington's claim. Otherwise there has been no comment.
But, while the public, especially motorists debate the ticketing issue, Parliament has been approving the regulations, gazetted on January 3 by the Toll Authority. They authorise the use of the spikes, which will deflate the tyres of persons trying to escape paying the toll.
According to Minister of Transport, Works and Housing, Dr Omar Davies, who piloted the measure through the House on Tuesday, the Toll Roads are plagued by motorists trying to avoid paying the tolls by reversing onto side entrances.
Davies noted that the practice not only affects toll collection, but also creates dangers for motorists who are properly utilising the adjoining roads, and has resulted in injuries and damage, as well as deaths with the last fatality occurring in August 2011.
He said that the police are unable to provide the physical presence needed to control the situation, and had proposed the use of the spikes, instead.
"These (spikes) will not affect motorists who are driving legitimately onto the ramps and link roads, and signs will be placed at strategic places to advise the motorists of the presence of the devices," Davies explained.
He added that and the spikes will also have a manual operational mechanism which can disable it, when necessary.