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Transport operators escalate protest, traffic flow being disrupted

Leader of Opposition Business in the Senate Donna Scott Mottley

 

Taxi operators have escalated their protest against what they see as unfavourable provisions in the new Road Traffic Bill making its way through Parliament, blocking strategically important roadways in the Corporate Area and elsewhere on Wednesday morning.

Access to Norman Manley International Airport was affected by the protest for a while, the road in the vicinity of Harbour View roundabout being blocked. That has now been cleared.

The road in the vicinity of the Caribbean Cement Company was earlier blocked by taxi operators. It was subsequently cleared by the police.
 
Traffic in Linstead, St. Catherine has also been disrupted.

Owners of taxis and other public passenger vehicles are particularly incensed about reports that they will be liable for offences committed by drivers of their vehicles.

The bill, recently passed with many amendments in the House of Representatives, is scheduled to be taken up next by the Senate.

Opposition senators

Opposition Senators have served notice that they will raise a range of  concerns and questions which have arisen about the amended Road Traffic Bill when the Upper House meets on Friday.
 
Senator Donna Scott-Mottley, Leader of  Opposition Business in the Upper House, has declared that there are outstanding issues which must be settled before the Bill can go further.
 
The Senator, speaking Tuesday on RJR's Beyond the Headlines, said some of  the issues which have arisen in the amended bill are new and werre just presented to senators, so there was not enough time for them to be properly assessed.
 
She argued that opposition senators are not against the changes to be made, but are concerned that some of  the provisions may have unintended consequences for members of  the public.
 
The Opposition Senators will be standing firm on the issue on Friday, Scott Mottley affirmed.
 
"There will be robust debate, because we have a duty to protect the public," she said, referring to some taxis as "weapons of mass disruption," regarding the manner in which they are operated.
 
Nevertheless, care must be taken in the legislative process to avoid "unecessary consequences, or consequences which we have not anticipated and taken into account and planned for."
 
Regulations
 
One major question relates to the absence of regulations accompanying the bill, she said.
 
"The regulations can  in fact address concerns, and that is why, for good governance, it's more important to me that you actually see how it is intended to function," she stressed.
 
She also questioned whether passing on liability for infractions by taxi drivers to the owners of the vehicle will achieve the desired effect.
 
"My own experience is that after the driver has committed a number of infractions he simply walks off the driver and moves on to another job."
 
What is required, she said, is "a system which is effective in penalising those who break the law," an objective which, according to her, is not likely to be met in this measure.
 
 


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