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EDITORIAL: LTA Shake-Up Welcome

Public consultations and talanoa sessions have become an effective tool in gauging public opinions and aspirations. In the public consultations on transport, there were complaints against the Land Transport Authority
20 Jun 2015 16:23
EDITORIAL: LTA Shake-Up Welcome
Writer applauds Government's LTA Shake-up

Public consultations and talanoa sessions have become an effective tool in gauging public opinions and aspirations.

In the public consultations on transport, there were complaints against the Land Transport Authority and its officers. There were also claims of corruption.

The outcome of those consultations is in a report made public yesterday by the Attorney-General,       Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. The report is timely and contains concrete steps to improve the transport industry in terms of safety, accountability and transparency.

It calls for a review of the enforcement policies and practice of the LTA by a committee among wide-ranging changes recommended.

Many will be happy with a recommendation that all LTA documentation and decision-making with respect to the processing of applications for PSV (Passenger Service Vehicle) licences should be available for public scrutiny.

This featured strongly in many of the complaints. The new measure ensures there is transparency in the system.

The major shake-up of the LTA has also called for the current board members to be replaced to allow for recommendations to be implemented effectively.

Another recommendation that will be welcomed is the setting up of a Complaints Unit that will be independent from the LTA management and will report directly to the Minister for Transport. In the past, public complaints took too long to process and gave rise to claims of inefficiency and corruption. This will help to restore public confidence which has been seriously undermined.

The Government has not lost sight of people who come from low income background. The report recommends that a freeze on the issuance of new PSV licences is lifted. It also recommends that once the number of taxi and mini-bus licence is determined, new licences should be given to those Fijians who are from low-income background. They should also be issued to taxi or mini-bus drivers who want to have a PSV licence and who have been driving taxis or minibuses for at least more than a decade and who have not received a PSV licence. Again transparency is the key word here. The report stresses that the licences must be issued in a transparent manner.

The proposed setting up of a national bus schedule immediately will alleviate the tension and disputes that break out between bus companies. The schedule will set out clearly the exact routes and the times of the scheduled services.

The ending of a practice of issuing temporary road permit under section 66 of the Act to new operators ceases immediately is a good move. This will remove the chances of abuse.

All in all, this is a comprehensive report and the Government must be commended for the speed in which it prepared it after the consultations.

The sooner the recommendations are implemented the better it would be for the industry. This overhaul has been long been overdue. The number of road accidents reflects the seriousness of the problems in the LTA. While LTA has recently carried out some changes, they are not enough.

The proposed review will identify the problems and recommend solutions.

This holistic approach will bring in changes that will be beneficial to all stakeholders in the long- term.

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj




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