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Debate on new Road Traffic Act resumes today

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

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THE long-delayed debate on the new Road Traffic Act (RTA) will resume in the House of Representatives today, but there is still no indication when the process will be completed.

There are more than 160 amendments coming from the Senate, which approved the Bill in May, adding to more than 130 amendments which had been made during its passage through the House of Representatives in February.

In addition to those amendments, Minister of Transport and Mining Robert Montague had tabled five new amendments two weeks ago, which led to the Opposition calling for more time to review the new proposals in the absence of its spokesman on transport, Mikael Phillips.

The new amendments were delayed for another week when the House met last week, but it is expected that the Opposition will be ready to participate in the debate today.

What is still unsure is when the process will be completed, as even if the five new amendments are accepted today, they would have to be sent back to the Senate for approval.

The minister said yesterday that he did not wish to comment on the outcome, but indications from Opposition members when the Bill was last postponed on October 30 was that there is agreement, basically, on both sides of the aisle.

However, Montague is proposing two very important amendments, one of which will remove the requirement for drivers to have their licences with them on all occasions, and the other will make the owner of a vehicle liable for ticketed offences.

One amendment states that in the absence of a driver's licence the driver will be able to use other identification documents approved by the police.

The other states that in the case of the issuing of ticketing by the police, the provisions of the Act shall apply “as if the owner of the vehicle was the driver of the vehicle at the time of the commission of the offence, in respect of which the notice was issued”. However, it also states that demerit points would not apply against the owner of the vehicle.

These latest amendments are understood to have come out of discussions at the level of the National Road Safety Council, which is chaired by Prime Minister Andrew Holness.

— Balford Henry

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