Minister to put stop to "nonsense" privileges of L.T.A. staff

The Minister of Works Transport and Infrastructure, Papali’i Niko Lee Hang, has vowed to put a stop to "nonsense" privileges that enabled Land Transport Authority staff to pay off their vehicle registration fees through salary deductions.

Unlike members of the public, who are required to pay for personal vehicle registrations up front, the entitlements of L.T.A. staff included the use of salary deductions over a period of time to pay off their private vehicle registrations. 

But the Minister said this is not fair: “This is not fair to the public who pays the full registration up front. I will put a stop to this nonsense."

Last year it was revealed that under a benefit outlined in the L.T.A. human resources manual, staff can only register a maximum of two vehicles using the entitlement - and only in their own names. 

“The first step for the staff is to submit an official request is directed to myself as C.E.O. then an assessment is conducted by the corporate services division and finance division, and the decision is made—based on the assessment,” the L.T.A. CEO, Galumalemana Ta’atialeoitiiti Tutuvanu-Schwalger said at the time. 

But the Minister said the L.T.A. should not have allowed the policy to be formulated and implemented in the first place. 

“Members of the public are paying their registrations before they get the sticker and having the L.T.A. do that is a big no," Papali’i said.

"I’ll consult with the Board [about] whether they are aware of this matter. 

“And some families, even businesses, have more than one car and they pay their registration up front.

At the time of the L.T.A. staff policy's revelation, Galumalemana said that the entitlement assisted staff who could not afford to pay the registration for their private vehicles.  

Last month Parliament approved into law the transfer of vehicle registration functions from the L.T.A. to the Ministry of Police. 

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. 

The Samoa Observer revealed this week that to date only five traffic officers with the  L.T.A. have taken up employment with the Ministry of Police, with most of them opting to resign.

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