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House approves new Road Traffic Bill

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — The House of Representatives yesterday gave full approval to the five most recent amendments to the long delayed Road Traffic Act (RTA).

Both Government and Opposition members fully supported the major changes to the Bill, which includes provisions for motor vehicle owners to be ticketed for breaches by drivers of their vehicles.

The Bill says that the tickets and fines shall apply to the owner of the vehicle, as if the owner was driving the vehicle when the breach was committed. However, the owners will not suffer demerit points.

Drivers who feared being caught without their driver's licence, however, will breathe a sigh of relief, as another amendment allows them to use other recognised identifications.

Opposition spokesman on finance, Mark Golding, welcomed the amendment as an important step towards greater accountability on the roads, and a significant piece of legislation.

“It is my firm belief that these amendments will go a long way in helping to restore order on our streets,” Attorney General Marlene Malahoo Forte commented.

Minister of Health, Dr Christopher Tufton, said it would significantly reduce the cost to the health sector of the results of road crashes.

“I am happy that good sense came into the picture and we are looking at that now,” said Opposition MP, Dr Morais Guy, who chaired the committee reviewing the Bill during the last administration on several occasions.

Opposition spokesman on transport, Mikael Phillips, expressed relief that the amendments have been passed, but was concerned about the length of time it would take for the regulations to be produced.

“We are making giants steps and breaking new ground in the legal realm,” said Minister of Transport and Mining, Robert Montague, who piloted the new amendments.

However, Montague pointed out that the current Road Traffic Act will remain in place until the legal implications of the new Bill are resolved.

The Bill is to be sent back to Senate to discuss the five new amendments approved, yesterday. The regulations will be required before it is implemented.

Balford Henry

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