Island Traffic Authority is oversight body for new Road Traffic Act

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MINISTER of Transport and Mining Robert Montague says that the new Island Traffic Authority (ITA) board, which will be the oversight body for the long-delayed Road Traffic Act (RTA), has been appointed.

“The board is getting [to work] and they must recruit a CEO in fast order. I will come back with an update soon,” Montague told members of the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

The minister, who was speaking in the Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives, promised to provide further update on the timeline for implementing the provisions of the Act, and the plans to deal with the unruly public transportation sector.

But, Opposition’s spokesman on transport, Mikael Phillips, who also spoke Tuesday, told the minister that the public transport system had already declined into a ‘chaka chaka’ system.

“The country cannot grow in a chaka chaka system. We have been here before and we made the necessary investments to fix the system and give our people a world-class transport system. Sadly, we are going backwards,” Phillips insisted.

Montague informed the House that the ITA, along with the police, will be enforcing the provision for trucks to be fitted with crash bars at the back and right sides to prevent small vehicles from running underneath them and that, as of September 1, the ministry will be encouraging motorists to drive with their lights on during the days.

“This has proven to reduce traffic crashes by 12 per cent to 20 per cent in other jurisdictions. We will run this voluntary pilot for a year, and make an assessment after six months,” he stated.

“I am also pleased to inform you that electronic traffic enforcement is coming. Running red lights, speeding, no seat belts, improper lane usage ,and accidents will be caught on traffic cameras. In addition, licence plate reading tied to our database will see tickets issued electronically and, if not paid, cars will not be able to renew the registration,” he informed the House.

Montague said that his ministry will soon begin discussions with the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA) so that it will be able to hold on to offenders at the airports who breach the RTA.

“We are leveraging technology to assist in road safety. All of this should have been done already, but these new things take time and the process of approval is long and drawn out, but it is what it is. This minister will take the time and the criticism, but will do it right,” he said.

Turning to the Transport Authority (TA), which monitors the public transport system, Montague noted that, despite the challenges, there have been improvements in that sector.

“This minister has had 14 meetings with the various stakeholders in the system in 12 months. This has never happened before. We are listening to our partners. This minister is the only minister, in our history, to place a member of the public passenger sector on the board of the TA and ITA,” Montague said.

He added that he is encouraging the sector to join with the Government and remove the bad drivers and operators from the system.

“It will take a while, but we have started. The new Road Traffic Act is of great benefit. We have made getting a badge easier while improving on the security checks. We are now verifying the address and information on our records. We are negotiating a MOU with the insurance industry to share information, so that we can close the loophole on those who should not to be in the industry,” the minister explained.

He said that, along with the stakeholders, the ministry has started ‘Operation One Road’ with weekly operations along a specific roadway in each region.

“We have the police, ITA and justices of the peace on board, and we are on the go, we do not stay in one spot. So far, we have, over three weeks, stopped 54,000 vehicles islandwide, warned 10,800 drivers, seized 488 vehicles and issued 6,100 tickets,” he said.

He said that the exercise will continue, as the ministry seeks behaviour changes, but he admitted that this will not happen overnight.

But Phillips insisted that he was not impressed by the minister’s revelations.

“Despite the rosy picture painted by the minister of transport, I will present evidence that the transport sector is now experiencing the worst of time and is on the verge of chaos,” he said.

“We will continue to raise questions about the Government’s public transport changes. Every time the minister speaks, it sounds as if he is announcing a different plan. Why is that so? The only answer is that there is no plan at all,” Phillips concluded.

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