The dispute between the Police and the Land Transport Authority (L.T.A.), over the enforcement of traffic infringements and the collection of fines, is unlikely to be resolved any time soon.
While the Police Commissioner, Fuiavailiili Egon Keil, has asked Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malelegaoi to amend the law, the Chief Executive Officer of L.T.A., Galumalemana Ta’atialeoitiiti Tutuvanu-Schwalger, is standing her ground.
“While the determination by Commissioner of Police to remove traffic law enforcement is noted, the work and livelihoods of 30+ of my staff who will be affected if the change goes ahead is of my priority as well as of my Management and Board,” she said.
There is more to it than tha, she said. “There were valid reasons why the responsibilities of traffic law enforcement including the issuance (T.O.N.s) etc were transferred from the Ministry of Police to the Land Transport Authority,” Galumalemana said.
She explained that minor traffic offences, such as not wearing a seatbelt and driving without a license, are prevalent.
Therefore there is a significant number of T.O.N.s to be processed, she said.
“Furthermore those who have been issued a ticket or a T.O.N.s are given 21 days to pay and failure to do this will be prosecuted in Court.
“Due to the high number of minor traffic offences to be processed in addition to criminal matters that is under the jurisdiction of Police, the Traffic Division was set up under L.T.A. to deal with minor traffic offences.
“The efficiency in the processing of T.O.N.s was improved since the responsible agency for issuing tickets was moved to L.T.A.”
Galumalemana added that L.T.A. has the resources needed for traffic law enforcement.
She said the initiative has always been supported by previous Commissioners of Police, who contributed to the transfer of traffic law enforcement to be part of L.T.A’s mandate.
“The L.T.A houses the vehicle registration and drivers license data; it is easier and quicker for our officers to find information about an offender when needed,” she said.
Besides, the C.E.O. said the legislation as it stands clearly stipulates that the traffic law enforcement is a joint responsibility of the Police and L.T.A.
“An example of this is the Boy Racer Operations which was a collaborative work between L.T.A and M.O.P. as well as demarcating areas and intersections within the town area that either the Police or L.T.A. Officers are monitor during peak hour traffic.
“The L.T.A. and M.O.P. are liaising to come up with the best way forward.”
Last month, Police Commissioner Fuiavailiili wrote to Prime Minister Tuilaepa requesting that the Road Traffic Act 2009 is amended to enable the Police to create and print its own traffic offence notices, issue traffic citations and get credit for revenue generated from traffic fines.