The National Assembly yesterday afternoon approved the Road Transport (Amendment) Bill, 2023.
The object of this bill is to introduce amendments to the Road Transport Act (Cap. 206). The bill amends section 5 to make provision for vehicle testing of all new vehicles at the point of import. All new vehicles imported must be tested on arrival then the next test must be done only after three years have lapsed.
Other provisions of the bill includes a point system to regulate road traffic offenses.
The bill was presented to the National Assembly by the Minister for Transport, Anthony Derjaques, yesterday afternoon.
Eighteen (18) members voted in favour of the bill while nobody voted against or abstained.
It is to be noted that the 18 votes in favour were from members of the majority present. The members of the opposition had already walked out of the session in committee stage before the voting took place.
Presenting the bill earlier, Minister Derjaques said that a new element of the bill is the introduction of a merit point system for drivers with a valid driving license. He added that points will be deducted as and when the driver commits a specific road traffic offence.
He noted that the deduction of points could lead to suspension and termination of driving licenses. An appeal board will also be created for appeals against decisions taken.
Minister Derjaques noted that apart from making provision for vehicles to be tested at the point of import, the bill also seeks to prohibit the importation of vehicles with tint or as well as use of tint or any device or material on vehicles already in Seychelles, on the front windscreen and front windows of a vehicle that obscures the view of the inside of the vehicle from the outside.
People wishing to circulate in vehicles with tinted windows will have to seek permission from the Commissioner of Police.
The bill also prevents the importation of vehicles to La Digue without the authorisation of the minister.
The minister stated that the bill also makes way for the Seychelles Licensing Authority (SLA) to establish a register on all registered vehicles in the country including a register on all driving permits which will be made accessible to the public at a price to be prescribed in the law. It also makes way for harsher penalties in monetary fines from R10,000 to R50,000 or three years imprisonment or both in cases of breaking the regulations in place.
He stated that the bill also gives the minister the power to make regulations and the authority to make regulations in relation to the point driving system. The merit points system will commence at 12 points and a license will be suspended not less than twelve months.
Although with some reservations with regard to the use of tint, especially towards vehicles with built-in proto chromatic glass windows and windscreens and also on what are the offences that would lead to deduction of points on the merit point system, all of the members from the majority spoke in favour of the bill.
The members of the minority who spoke said many details in the bill are missing that is causing some concerns and confusion given the law is being implemented without the approval of the National Assembly.
There were also some concerns among the members with regard to testing of vehicles for car hire operators and buses from the Seychelles Public Transport Corporation (SPTC) given the change in drivers.
In his deliberation on the bill, the elected member for Beau Vallon, John Hoareau, said the bill responds to the various demands expressed by the people in the public meetings and on social media to address road situations and safe driving.
He noted that the testing of new vehicles after three years will reduce the number of tests being done at the Vehicle Testing Station and thus will provide a better service.
He noted that he doesn’t understand why vehicles with built-in proto chromatic glass cannot be imported as they form part of modernisation to cut off glare that can cause accidents.
For his part, the elected member for Port Glaud, Hon. Egbert Aglae, said that by presenting the offences linked to the deduction of points to the members of the National Assembly would have had members make informed decisions and further to also educate members of their constituencies.
The elected member for Les Mamelles Hon. Bernard Georges, said that although he welcomes the bill as it is good to have a modernised bill, we have to be serious with regard to enforcement so as to ensure that the law is respected.
The leader of the opposition, Hon. Sebastien Pillay, said that while part of the bill looks good other parts raises too many questions given that certain provisions, such as the testing of new vehicles at port of import, are being exercised without the law being approved yet.
In his summing up, Minister Derjaques thanked the members for supporting the bill, noting that further regulations will be tabled with regard to certain clauses in the bill which will be in consultation with all stakeholders.
Before the summing up by Minister Derjaques, the proportionate member for United Seychelles, Hon. Johan Loze, was expelled by Speaker Roger Mancienne on the grounds of disrespect.