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Police to focus on law enforcement as vehicles registrations go back to LTA

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA – 15 JUNE 2023: Parliament has endorsed returning the registration of vehicles and drivers licenses to the Lands & Transport Authority. These functions had been added to the work of the police under the previous HRPP governments.

The Vehicles Registration & Driver’s License Amendment Act 2023 tabled by the Minister of Police, Faualo Harry Schuster was passed yesterday after two days debate under emergency status. The amendment allows the police to focus on its core law enforcement functions and LTA to focus on registration and licensing of vehicles.

Specifically, police will deal with issuing fines on vehicles including the unpaid parking tickets, but LTA does the rest and collects parking tickets money.

Issues of concern raised during deliberation
Such issues includes the need to review of certain provisions in the Act regarding,

  • safety on the road for drivers and pedestrians, speed limits,
  • additional passing lanes, road signs, vehicle insurance,
  • tax on commercial vehicles, road users & vehicle owners,
  • standards of vehicles and the contents of the application test for license.

The Opposition leader, Lauofo Pierre Lauofo supported the separation now effected by the amendment. He also emphasized safety for both drivers and pedestrians as the number of vehicles in Samoa is increasing rapidly and contributed to serious road incidents but rude and ignorant drivers on the road.

He urged the Minister responsible for LTA to revisit the content of the tests taken by drivers when they applied for a license and the applicant must understand the road and traffic law before issuing a license.

lta lauofo
lta lauofo

The Opposition Leader Lauofo Pierre Lauofo.

He also pointed to a number of illegal additions made to many vehicles such as bright and colour eights, speakers blaring loud music that must be removed as they post a danger to other motorists and the public.

Emphasized was the need for road signs in critical roads such as at Foga’a, Faleula where there is no sign to warn drivers at night time of a cement island where there had been a previous accident.

Also raised is the initiative to establish a Road Safety Committee, however there were certain important ministries that should be included in the committee.

“There should be a member of the Fire & Emergency Service Authority (FESA) and a member of the Taxi Service Association in the committee,” said Lauofo.

Additional taxes as government has no money
Despite supporting the Bill, the Opposition Leader questioned the tax placed on road users arguing such tax is an added burden to the public especially with the high cost of living.

Lauofo pointed out that the real reason behind these taxes is because the government has no money.

However, Faualo pointed out there is no connection between the Opposition Leaders argument and the amendment as the new budget is very clear on how much of the government’s revenues and expenses. He also emphasized that the taxes and other issues raised are not new or additional provisions by the current Government but were already in the old Act and are being reviewed.

“Without these added taxes, the Government would have to rely on loans to build and maintain our roads,” he said.

Faualo clarified that the only issue before Parliament was whether the Vehicle Registration & License Amendment Act 2023 be transferred to LTA or not, but issues raised are currently under review.