Phillips scolds Gov't for Road Traffic Act delay
PHILLIPS... it shows thatwhen you delay there areconsequences for delay(Photo: Observer file)

MONTEGO BAY, St James — Opposition spokesman on transport Mikael Phillips says the temporary injunction granted by the Supreme Court blocking the police from issuing traffic tickets in excess of fines as at 2006 is a result of the Government's delay in implementing the new Road Traffic Act passed three years ago.

“For me it shows that when you delay there are consequences for delay. It could have been rectified if they had just brought the regulations to Parliament that were passed three years ago. There is no way that you can say that the Parliament is working when you have one law waiting to be enacted for three years,” Phillips told the Jamaica Observer on Thursday.

Phillips was responding to the court injunction applied for by Maurice Housen who is contending that the fine written on a speeding ticket he received from the police in July this year should have been $800 instead of the $5,000 that obtains under the new Act which is yet to be implemented.

Phillips argued that while some people are complaining that the new fines are high, “the reality is that a lot of what has been passed in Parliament cannot come into being because the regulations are not completed”.

He said the delay also impacts the ability of the police “utilising cameras at stop lights and being able to prosecute persons or using cameras to take photographs of licence plates”.

“That can't come into being because, again, the regulations. You have quite a few Jamaicans who have invested in the technology and have been sitting down on them for at least a minimum of two-and-a-half years. So I think that is a lesson for us how not to do things, because if the court is saying the minister of finance cannot arbitrarily adjust fees, then it also begs the question how many others have we done like that, and I am not talking about any one administration,” Phillips said.

The House of Representatives yesterday sat in an emergency session to deal with the issue. It was expected to pass legislation that will indemnify the Government against what could be the paying of billions of dollars to motorists who were charged using the higher fines in the new Road Traffic Act, which is yet to be implemented, instead of that in the law up to 2006.

Meanwhile, National Road Safety Council Vice-President Dr Lucien Jones said Thursday that speedy implementation of the new Act is the best avenue available to the Government to avoid making millions of dollars in refunds to motorists who had been fined in excess of the penalties.

“The immediate implication is that the whole thing can be sorted out if the Government were to implement the new Act very quickly, then everything would settle down back to what we want it to be, which is to have an effective deterrent system working,” Jones said.

He, however, said that would have to be done “in conjunction with providing the country with an improved ticketing system”.

He pointed out that many motorists who had received traffic tickets had simply thrown them away because the system wasn't working well.

However, the Government, he said, was putting in place measures “to make the system more efficient”.

A traffic policeman travelling on Half-Way-Tree Road in Kingston 5.(Photo: Joseph Wellington)
BY HORACE HINES Staff reporter hinesh@jamaicaobserver.com

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