Motorists with vehicles off the road for extended periods have been given a 12-month amnesty on outstanding registration charges to enable them to use their vehicles again.
The amnesty was announced by the Transport Minister, the Hon Praveen Kumar, who described it as a major benefit for low-income earners who could not afford to pay back charges when they were finally able to get their vehicles back on the road.
“This will be wonderful news for thousands of Fijian families who own vehicles but have not been able to use them because of the back charges that have accumulated during their period off the road”, he said.
This measure and other regulatory changes were made as a result of a report on the land transport industry issued by the Ministry of Justice and Anti-Corruption that was initiated in response to complaints from members of the public.
Under the regulation change, Fijians will be given a 12 month amnesty in which to register their vehicles without having to pay the outstanding amount for the period in which their vehicle was not being used.
In another significant development, new regulations make it an offence for the driver of any public service vehicle – such as a bus, mini bus or taxi – to refuse transport to any person with a disability. The driver of any PSV must also take reasonable steps to assist persons with physical disabilities when getting in and out of vehicles. And the owner of any PSV must ensure that the vehicle is user friendly for people with disabilities.
“The onus is now on PSV owners and drivers to put the needs of disabled people at the top of their priorities. This is also part of the wider drive to improve the rights of the disabled as provided for in the Constitution”, the Minister said.
A further change relates to the use of agricultural machinery on public roads. Any piece of machinery that uses the public roads for less than 50 per cent of its operating time will be exempt from paying the road user levy.
“This is an issue of basic fairness and will be a significant benefit for the nation’s farmers”, the Minister said.
Deregulation of the rental car business, including vehicles for hire, is also addressed in the new regulations, putting industry processes on a fast track.
In addition, proposed legislation to be put before the Parliament later this week abolishes the capacity of the Land Transport Authority to issue demerit points for traffic offences.
In future, demerit points will only be imposed by the courts when a vehicle owner or operator is convicted of an offence that attracts demerit points.