The long promised changes to the Barbados Road Traffic Act will go before Parliament soon after the 2017-2018 Budgetary Proposals slated for May 30, says Minister of Transport and Works (MTW) Michael Lashley.
Lashley today said there was an urgent need to implement the proposed changes in order to curb the spate of accidents and road fatalities.
It was in March that the minister said during debate on the 2017/2018 Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure that the legislative changes, which affect both the Transport Authority Act and the Road Traffic Act, would be introduced next month.
However, he was more circumspect today, preferring not to announce a date by which the proposals would reach the Lower House.
“I know that this is becoming a record so when I mention the Road Traffic Act people say, ‘he and that again’; but certainly it is a work in progress, and a key piece of legislation takes time,” Lashley told the launch of the MTW’s public awareness campaign on road safety at the ministry’s headquarter at The Pine, St Michael.
Four years earlier, in May 2013, the minister had told the Second International Road Federation Caribbean Regional Congress here that his ministry was in the process of amending the Road Traffic Act to include the wearing of helmets by cyclists, semi-annual inspection of public service vehicles, annual inspection of private motor vehicles over a certain age, speeding, and the use of communication devices while driving.
There have been no visible signs of progress since, and Lashley today explained that the amended measure was not the only piece of legislation that Government had to consider.
“There are a number of legislations on the Government’s platform and the Road Traffic Act falls within that timetable, and of course we have to engage stakeholders and we have to engage lawyers and we to ensure that it is fit to be debated in Parliament
. . . . We have actually distilled them to ensure that they fit within the four corners of the law and we will be ready right after the budget,” Lashley said.
The delayed amendments, which will also make provision for breathalyzer testing, have been a source of frustration for President of the Barbados Road Safety Association (BRSA) Sharmane Roland-Bowen, who had dismissed Lashley’s assurances in March as “false promises”.
With 17 road fatalities already this year, Roland-Bowen, who was present at this morning’s launch, warned that another day’s delay could mean the loss of another life.
“With this legislation that is about to come on stream, the minister said earlier that it should be later this year, but I would hate to see it go over into next year because we can never tell what is going to happen in this country, and I won’t like to have a restart where things go to the bottom. This is the closest that we have been to getting these legislations into fruition and for it to go over you can never tell what is going happen next year after February or March,” Roland-Bowen said in an apparent reference to general elections due next year.