Maximum traffic spot fine to go up to Rs. 600

by Kalinga Weerakkody
Under a proposed amendment to the Motor Traffic Act (MTA) of 1981, the maximum spot fine for traffic offenders is to be enhanced to Rs. 600/- from the current Rs. 200/-, a senior police official disclosed.

The Act had not been amended for the past 21 years and due to this, the existing maximum spot fine of Rs. 200 is grossly inadequate, Director (Traffic), SSP S. M. Wickramesinghe said.

The need for higher penalties for traffic offenders has come into focus with the spate of fatal accidents with particular involvement of private passenger buses.

SSP Wickremasinghe said the Act would be hopefully amended within the next three months as the draft had already been submitted to the Transport Ministry for its perusal.

The Traffic Advisory Committee (TAC) appointed last year to consider matters pertaining to the issue had submitted its report to the Registrar of Motor Vehicles (RMV).

Meanwhile, the President of the Lanka Private Bus Association’ (LPBA) Gamunu Wijeratne said a code of ethics will be introduced to all its members to ensure safe driving and thereby minimise accidents.

He said the report was submitted on June 19 to the National Transport Committee (NTC) with copies to the Provincial Transport Authority (PTA) and to the Minister of Transport.

He said under the ‘ethics’ bus drivers who are involved in fatal accidents would not be recruited by its members for a period of one year.

Also, if, after the one year period, a driver is involved in a another fatal accident he would not be recruited as a bus driver for a life-time, Wijeratne said.

He said besides this, in their report they had pointed out the necessity to educate commuters and pedestrians in general of road rules and usage of road signals.

He pointed out as the driving seat in some buses being at a higher elevation than those of passengers, sometimes the drivers had been unable to spot pedestrians who cross the road in front of their buses at random.

It had also been suggested that speed limits should be indicated near the campuses and the schools.

Under the Motor Traffic Act (MTA), all merchandise vehicle owners should exhibit their name and addresses on their respective vehicles.

When it comes to private buses the owners should exhibit it on the left hand side of the footboard of the bus.

Passengers complain that overloading in the so-called, airconditioned ‘inter-city’ private buses continue unabated. These buses charge almost three times the normal fare, but in contrary to their agreement with the transport authorities, they continue to overload under the nose of traffic policemen, they said.

Even the ‘jumper seats’ had been removed in most buses to carry more standing passengers. But the police continue to turn a blind eye to the agony of passengers who pay more to travel in airconditioned comfort.

A journalist who had got into a Panadura-bound inter-city bus with his wife last Friday found all the seats were occupied and they had to make the journey standing despite paying the full fare. Before boarding, he had been assured by the conductor that there were vacant seats. The airconditioning was also not working and passengers were in a bath of sweat, the journalist said.

He has now taken up the matter with the Transport Authority and the bus crew has been summoned for an inquiry next week.