Fiji Labour Party continues to receive countless
complaints from motorists and from members of the public
about what they claim to be the “bullying” tactics of the
Land Transport Authority (LTA).
Labour is concerned at this mounting criticism from both public and private vehicle owners against the excesses of LTA officials. This is a long standing issue which has become worse in recent years.
Labour intends to address this problem as a matter of urgency if elected into office.
The most “harassed” are taxi and bus drivers, as well as drivers of carriers and commercial vehicles.
LTS has simply become an unwelcome imposition on motorists. To many it seems as though the Land Trust Authority has been unleashed on the roads to police, penalize and terrorise drivers, through harassment and unjustifiable penalties for minor infringements.
LTA fees and charges are unreasonably high in the context of an average driver’s income.
Of utmost concern, is the defect notice fine of $14.50 for even the most minor defects. In the past, motorists driving with a defective park light, for instance, would be required to fix it and report to LTA. Now they face a spot fine. The appalling condition of Fiji’s roads take a heavy toll on vehicles and minor defects in vehicles occur on a routine basis. Motorists should not be unduly penalized for bad road conditions.
LTA definitely needs an attitudinal change. It was created to assist motorists and keep our roads safe. But it has, instead, become a penal institution with a culture of harassment and intimidation. It proudly boasts from time to time about the high number of bookings for traffic infringements.
LTA’s daily road inspections are a nuisance and cause serious inconvenience to the travelling public. There have also been reports of corrupt practices with some prosecutions to date.
LTA has, in fact, earned the unsavoury reputation of becoming just a money-making agency. For instance, the reduction of speed limits on trunk routes such as the Suva-Nausori highway, to an unreasonably low 50km per hour is no doubt designed as a revenue measure.
Fiji Labour Party intends to carry out a comprehensive review of the LTA Act and the operations of the Land Transport Authority, including all fees and charges which place an intolerable burden on vehicle owners.
Labour is also opposed to the continued imposition of the Road User Levy introduced in the 2009 Budget, and is based on the engine capacity of the vehicle. It is an iniquitous tax which has brought little benefit to motorists.
In the years since 2009, Fiji’s roads, particularly in rural areas, have deteriorated markedly and people are justified in asking what is happening to the millions of dollars raised each year through the Road User Levy. With the Bainimarama Administration’s failure to provide financial statements and accounts, there is no accountability for this Levy as much of our roading system remains in a deplorable condition with huge pot holes and crumbling foundation.
A recent FLP survey showed six major bridges in the country, on our trunk routes, have either been closed to traffic or have restricted usage. One wonders what is happening to $400 million allocated for roads and bridges this year? There is, of course, no accountability or transparency in the regime’s handling of public funds.
We will, in particular, undertake the following measures:
- Labour will scrap the unpopular Road User Levy.
- Labour will remove the defect notice fine of $14.50.
- Labour will increase the speed limit on the Suva-Nausori Highway to ensure
a better traffic flow without endangering road safety
- Labour will rationalize the issuing of taxi permits. It has been noticed that permits are being issued unfairly.
Some big companies or individuals own over 100 permits and use these to engage contract drivers on unfair terms.
- Labour will redistribute taxi permits in a fair manner so that contract drivers also have the opportunity to become taxi owners.
- Labour will require pre-warning signs to be placed at least one kilometer before speed and inspection check points.
The frequency of vehicle inspection checks will be reduced so that motorists are not ‘harassed’ on a daily basis.