Police, L.T.A. traffic dispute unresolved

The dispute between the Ministry of Police and the Land and Transport Authority (LTA) over the enforcement of traffic regulations remains unresolved as the matter is yet to go before Cabinet for discussion. 

According to the Minister of Works Transport and Infrastructure, Papali’i Niko Lee Hang, a decision is pending until he meets with the Prime Minister on the issue.

In the interim period while discussions continue behind-the-scenes, L.T.A. officers are still issuing tickets for instant fines on minor traffic offences, while the Police handle major accidents and investigations on the matter. 

Papali’i pointed out that one of the reasons why there has been delays in tackling the matter is due to other related issues like taking minor traffic offence back to the Court. 

“At the moment L.T.A. can issue instant fines and you can go pay your fine at L.T.A.,” he said. 

“But with Police, sometimes it will take longer to process those matters, because it has to go to the Court and there are many delays. L.T.A. does go through the (justice) system, it just issues tickets and it is being left like that for the meantime, so it can be discussed and see which is the best way to go about it.” 

The Minister was also asked on the drafting of the L.T.A. law and if it overlooked overlap of functions between the two authorities. 

In response, Papali’i said maybe at the time, the designer of the law preferred to have the minor offences under L.T.A. as their core function and to monitor the road offences with instant fines. 

“I think that was the idea of it and if it comes to major offences police will have to investigate and prosecute when the matter goes to Court because at the time they cannot go issue instant fines,” he said. 

“But Police believe that they work 24 hours, which is why they want to take back this function.” 

Asked if the real issue is the authorities fighting over generated revenue, the Minister said it is a concern for the L.T.A. 

“That is the other issue which is revenue-related to traffic offence for L.T.A.,” he explained. 

“Should it be collected by Police or L.T.A. – and that is an issue that me and the Prime Minister are trying to solve – to ensure the authorities are not divided and we don’t want to cause any confusion between the officers.” 

In the last parliament sitting, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi said the overlapping of functions between the authorities is with Cabinet for deliberation.    

At the time, Tuilaepa described the situation as a horse with two heads. 

“What’s happening now it’s like a horse with two heads,” he said. 

“One head is going the other side and the other head is going the opposite side. 

“We are looking at policies that are before Cabinet in this matter and it will take some time to discuss, but I feel that it is something that needs a decision now.” 

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