Sat | Apr 1, 2023

Some going to prison

St Mary taxi operators vent anger at new Road Traffic Act

Published:Friday | February 3, 2023 | 12:13 AMCarl Gilchrist/Gleaner Writer
Assistant Commissioner of Police Gary Griffiths.
Assistant Commissioner of Police Gary Griffiths.

Several transport operators who attended a meeting called by the St Mary Police Diivision to discuss the new Road Traffic Act on Wednesday at the Port Maria Transport Centre vented their frustration at problems affecting them in the sector.

“Some are going to prison,” president of the Oracabessa Taxi Association, Standford Stewart told the meeting, pointing out that taxi operators will not be able to pay the hefty fines under the new legislation.

“Have mercy,” he begged the authorities.

While the turnout of taxi operators was woefully small, numbering in single digits, one taxi operator made it clear that he is prepared to break the law as that is the only way he and others in the system will be able to survive, based on the new fines under the new Act.

While the Act carries fines as high as $500,000, some that directly impacts PPV vehicles include operating a motor vehicle without a driver’s licence – $40,000; permitting another person to use vehicle not covered by insurance – $30,000; using motor vehicle to damage road signs – $50,000; careless driving causing collision – $25,000; careless driving where no collision occurs – $11,000; overtaking without a clear view – $10,000; driving a defective vehicle – $10,000; driving while using electronic communication device (such as a cellphone) – $10,000; driving without insurance – $10,000; driving without motor vehicle insurance – $20,000; driving without valid certificate of fitness – $15,000.

Assistant Commissioner of Police Gary Griffiths, who is in charge of the Public Safety and Transport Enforcement Branch, addressed the meeting and focused on the Act which came into effect on Wednesday, February 1. The senior cop addressed several areas considered key in the implementation of the new laws.

These include speeding, use of cellphones and video monitors while driving, use of seatbelts, tinting of windows and windscreens, speeding, and the noise levels of motorbikes, especially.

“We cannot sympathise on offences like these,” McKenzie warned, “These are the major things that will affect PPV vehicles,” he added.

Meanwhile, Mayor of Port Maria, Richard Creary, warned that the “Act will do absolutely nothing” unless there is enforcement and asked the police to be vigilant in enforcing it.

Superintendent in charge of St Mary, Bobette Morgan-Simpson, encouraged motorists to “do the right thing” in order to avoid getting prosecuted under the Act.

Currently, not every traffic cop has one of the new electronic ticketing devices that eliminate writing of tickets. Those who do not, will not be able to write tickets as usual that are payable at the tax office, but will instead issue summonses to attend court to face a judge.