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Transfer of L.T.A. Traffic division to Police approved

Parliament has approved into law the transfer of the Traffic Division of the Land Transport Authority (L.T.A.) to the Ministry of Police. 

The additional functions of the Police will now include vehicle registration, licensing and road use management, according to the Miscellaneous Ministerial Assignment Amendment Bill 2019.

Last year Commissioner of Police, Fuiavailiili Egon Keil wrote to the Prime Minister and Police Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi to request that the Road Traffic Act 2009 is amended, to enable Police to create and print its own traffic offence notices, issue traffic citations and get credit for revenue generated from traffic fines. 

According to the Bill, the Police Service will be responsible for registration of vehicles and licensing drivers in accordance with any law; establishing and enforcement of standards for vehicle registration inspection of vehicles; controlling or prohibiting the use of vehicles that are considered to be in breach of applicable standards or requirements; or unsafe to users of the vehicle or the general public; and formulation and implementation of road safety campaigns. 

Furthermore, the Bill states that any personnel staff of the L.T.A. — who has opted to be transferred to the Samoa Police Service — is at the commencement of this Act, considered a sworn member of the Service. 

The Bill stated that any resolutions passed by the L.T.A.’s Board before the commencement of this Act, relating to traffic matters are taken to be made by the Police Service for such purposes, and continue to be valid until revoked by the Service.

The amendments approved in this Bill consist of amendments made to the Land Transport Authority Act 2007; Police Powers Act 2007; Road Traffic (Payment of Fines) Act 2009; Road Traffic Ordinance 1960; Building Alignment Ordinance 1932; Ministry of Works Act 2002 by repealing of part 6 of that Act. 

Furthermore, the amendments provides for transitional arrangements required as a result of the transfer of duties from the Land Transport Authority to the Samoa Police Service. 

Last week, Members of Parliament appealed to the Prime Minister to reconsider the Cabinet decision on the transfer of powers to the Police from the L.T.A. 

Former Cabinet Minister, Faumuina Tiatia Liuga cautioned Parliament, saying the transfer of powers would lead to “conflict of interest".

“When it comes to traffic, the Police Commissioner is the regulator,” Faumuina said. “If you remove the division that registers vehicles, issues warrants of fitness, ensures all vehicles are fit to be on the road (from the L.T.A.), if that function is taken to the Police, that means it’s a conflict of interest (for the Police).”

Faumuina suggested that the operation arm of traffic be left with L.T.A. while the regulatory function should be moved to the Police.

But Prime Minister Tuilaepa intervened and told Faumuina to move away from the subject, saying the request will not be considered and the Government is not “tuivalea” that it would continue to sit by while problems persist.

“There is always this idea that the regulatory function should be separated from the operational arm, that’s a palagi thinking,” Tuilaepa said.

“Some people say (that a certain system has) been (around for) ten years and we should persevere for another ten. I’m telling you now the Government cannot wait when we see that there are problems that need to be fixed.

“Those kinds of systems are good for countries which have hundreds of thousands of people with different expertise.”

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