Clash over traffic law enforcement unresolved

The tussle between the Land Transport Authority and the Samoa Police Service over traffic enforcement powers remains unresolved.

The Cabinet is yet to make a decision on the issue after the Commissioner of Police, Fuiavailiili Egon Keil, wrote to the Prime Minister and Police Minister in October last year requesting that the Road Traffic Act 2009 is amended. 

The change will enable the Police to create and print its own traffic offence notices, issue traffic citations and get credit for revenue generated from traffic fines.

“Additionally, not mentioned in the previous correspondence for Cabinet, to reconsider returning all law enforcement functions related to traffic enforcement to the Samoa Police Service.  

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“After all Samoa Police Service is a 24-hour law enforcement entity, unlike Land Transport Authority. With Land Transport Authority’s efforts directed away from street enforcement, they can focus on administrative mandates such as driver’s license and vehicular registration requirements, including road construction and maintenance and vehicular safety inspections conducted on their premises,” Fuiavailiili stated in his October 2, 2018 letter.  

A month later the Land Transport Authority Chief Executive officer, Galumalemana Ta’atialeoitiiti Tutuvanu-Schwalger, in response said due to the high volume 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 Land Transport Authority to deal with minor traffic offences. 

According to Galumalemana, there are valid reasons why the responsibilities of traffic law enforcement were transferred from the Ministry of Police to the Land Transport Authority. 

These included the increasing prevalence of minor traffic offences, such as not wearing seatbelts and driving without a license – leading to a high volume of notices being issued.

The staffing numbers at the Land Transport Authority will also be affected if the Cabinet agreed to the proposed amendments, she added. 

“While the determination by Commissioner of Police to remove traffic law enforcement is noted, the work and livelihoods of 30-plus staff – who will be affected if the change goes ahead – is of my priority as well as of my management and Board,” she added.

It is understood the Cabinet is yet to make a decision on the stalemate between the two Government entities.

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