After more than four years of shifting deadlines, the long promised changes to the Barbados Road Traffic Act will go before Parliament later this month, a senior public servant revealed today.
Delivering a speech prepared for Minister of Transport and Works (MTW) Michael Lashley at Wednesday’s launch of the General Insurance Association Barbados’ sponsorship of a pedestrian crossing at the junction of Country Road and Roebuck Street, The City, Permanent Secretary Simone Rudder reiterated the importance of the legislation to ensure better road safety in Barbados, which has recorded 22 road fatalities for the year thus far, more than twice the ten recorded for all of last year.
“Road safety is vital component of the mandate of the Ministry of Transport and Works, which is carried out through the installation of appropriate infrastructure, the setting of standards, the promotion of safe practice by all road users and the collaboration with stakeholders to ensure the enforcement of rules and compliance. In this context, an important goal for the ministry is the strengthening of Barbados’ legislative for safety. I am therefore very pleased to be able to confirm that Parliamentary debate on the amendments to the Road Traffic Act and Regulations is scheduled to take place later this month,” Rudder said.
This promise comes five months after Lashley gave assurances that the changes would go before the Lower House soon after the 2017-2018 Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals, presented by Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler on May 30.
Two months earlier, in March of this year, the minister had 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 the following month.
In fact, Lashley first promised the changes in May 2013, when he told the 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.
However when asked by Barbados TODAY to give a guarantee that the newest timeline to debate the changes would be adhered to, Lashley, who was present at Wednesday’s launch, refused to comment.
The delays have been a source of frustration for President of the Barbados Road Safety Association Sharmane Roland-Bowen, who had dismissed Lashley’s assurances in March as “false promises”.
At the time, Roland-Bowen had 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.