Free ride for road hogs - Motorists who pay fine penalised, while delinquents get a 'bly' - Opposition charges
Opposition Senator Lambert Brown yesterday called on the Government to expunge the demerit points of motorists who have been paying their traffic ticket fines, noting that those who did not play by the rules have had no points taken from their licence, while benefiting from a second traffic ticket amnesty.
"How can it be that you are giving people who break the rules a reprieve on demerit points, but you're not doing it for everybody?" Brown questioned during a debate yesterday in the Senate on the Road Traffic (Temporary Ticket Amnesty) (No. 2) Act, 2017.
The bill was passed with no amendments.
The Opposition suggested changes, two of which were voted down by the Government.
Leader of Opposition Business in the Senate Donna Scott-Mottley said that it appeared that the purpose of the bill was singularly a revenue-enhancing measure.
The bill states that the amnesty is to enhance revenue administration and collection, afford persons an opportunity to clear their driving records, and reduce the number of cases in the courts.
She said that the Government, which collected some $590 million in the first three-month amnesty, was targeting an outstanding $2.8 billion in unpaid traffic tickets.
SENDING WRONG SIGNAL
"This bill sends a signal to persons who go to court, plead guilty, and pay a fine and have points taken from their driver's licence that all you have to do is wait on the next amnesty," said Scott-Mottley.
She warned against a culture of giving a 'bly', or a chance, noting that it could send the wrong signal to law-abiding Jamaicans.
Government Senator Kavan Gayle said that he would not be supporting continued amnesties for delinquent and undisciplined motorists.
He called for the urgent implementation of the new Road Traffic Act.
Government Senator Pearnel Charles Jr, who piloted the bill, said that he had no difficulty in agreeing that as a country, "we have to move away from the giving-a-bly culture".
He said that there has to be a focus on road safety and enforcement. However, he said that the Government listened to the Jamaican people, and as such, offered the amnesty.
"In listening to them, it does not mean that we capitulate. It doesn't mean that we do not consider enforcement important," said Charles.
Opposition Senator Damion Crawford suggested that the money collected from the amnesty should be used to put in proper signage, cameras, and other technology that would help to curb some of the irresponsible behaviour on the nation's roads.
The bill, which was passed, will give motorists a 45-day amnesty starting on Monday.