By Carlena Knight
Transport Minister Robin Yearwood threw his full support behind the Transport Board (Amendment) Bill 2020 which was passed in Parliament yesterday.
The Bill’s primary objective is to increase the number of persons allowed to sit on the board, allowing the Traffic Commissioner or his nominee to join.
The legislation states that the relationship between the Transport Board and police is crucial in the implementation and enforcement of laws governing vehicles, roads and traffic, hence adding the Commissioner and increasing the body’s membership from seven to eight.
The board advises the minister on standards to be prescribed for vehicles imported into Antigua and Barbuda; measures for controlling commercial and private transportation; and the establishment of standards under which commercial and private transportation may operate.
They can also advise on regulating fares, rates, fees and other charges relating to ground transportation; the payment of tolls and other charges by heavy duty vehicles; licensing of vehicles and vehicle operators; regulatory measures to control vehicular and pedestrian traffic; and the construction and regulation of car parks.
Yearwood believes that the Bill “is the genesis of bringing some discipline to drivers in the country”.
He says it is imperative now more than ever for the law enforcement official to sit on the board following the number of accidents and incidents of speeding on the country’s roads.
“The police are very important to sit on the Transport Board, especially now where we have everybody using the good roads as a racing track and to have somebody from the police on the board will bring some perspective to the entire Transport Board to make sure that people drive within the traffic limits,” Yearwood said.
He said greater responsibility is now on police to ensure that law-breaking in terms of speeding is dealt with.
Attorney General Steadroy ‘Cutie’ Benjamin also expressed his support and said the addition of the Traffic Commissioner would mean more comprehensive planning can be conducted.
“They can properly plan the size of markings on the road and also the size of speed bumps and the types to be used. On Backstreet, the heavy-duty trucks destroy the little speed bumps, right where I live. Even though we have speed bumps, those drivers don’t care, they still fly over them,” Benjamin said.
“With the Commissioner being on the board they can sit properly and arrange what needs to be done. The police will be monitoring this properly because with this monitoring they know exactly what is needed. We are definitely putting in place proper regulations, proper plans to save people’s lives,” Benjamin added.
Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Jamale Pringle shared his support for the addition of the law enforcement official but questioned comments regarding speeding, saying government had already spent a significant amount of money battling that.
“We have spent millions of dollars on the addition of speed bumps to curtail the speed and we have not seen a difference. So, is it a situation where the monies spent on the speed bumps should have been spent on other things?” he asked.
“In my view, I strongly believe the police presence on the road would be much better than the speed bumps because here it is you can be charged right then and there and if you pick up enough speed you don’t even remember those speed bumps exist.”
Pringle added, “I don’t think that at this point we should be looking at the addition of the Traffic Commissioner – which I agree if the police are handling the traffic, they should be on the board so that they are a part of the planning process going forward – but I think that immediately a solution to the speeding exists.”