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Parliament wants Road Traffic Act reviewed

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The Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament has asked the government to review the Road Traffic and Safety Services Act.

Legal Affairs Committee Chairperson, Maxwell Thyolera, said this when his committee summoned management of the Directorate of Road Traffic and Safety Services (DRTSS) to get first-hand information on why they announced new road traffic penalties without consulting his committee.

The proposed fee hike has been suspended.

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“Due to the public outcry over the road traffic fee hike, my committee wanted to understand how the directorate arrived at such hefty charges without consulting my committee,” Thyolera said in an interview after meeting DRTSS officials.

Thyolera said the Legal Affairs Committee has welcomed the decision to suspend the fee hike and suggested that the Ministry of Transport and Public Works should bring a proposal to Parliament in order to review the DRTSS Act.

He said his committee wanted DRTSS to consider concerns raised by road users to ensure that the fee hike does not infringe on people’s economic rights.

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Members of the committee expressed concern that the proposed road traffic fees could be one way of breeding corruption as most Malawians cannot afford the proposed penalties; hence, creating a loophole as road users are more likely to bribe police or DRTSS officials than pay the fees.

The members have since proposed that DRTSS should get rid of the proposed fine applicable to those who insult police officers on duty.

Addressing Members of Parliament, DRTSS Director, Fergus Gondwe, said the decision to hike the fees remains suspended, pending consultations with stakeholders.

Gondwe added that the hiked fees were meant to curb cases of fatal accidents that have become rampant in the country.

He said, since the announcement, DRTSS has received overwhelming numbers of people who have been renewing their licences as well as certificates of fitness for their vehicles.

During the meeting, the directorate indicated that, from January 2018, it would be asking road users to replace number plates as time has expired.

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