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Why traffic fines, fees were shelved

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By Isaac Salima:

Directorate of Road Traffic Safety Services (DRTSS) was forced to suspend implementation of new traffic penalties and fees after being censured by parliamentary committees on the consequences of proceeding with the decision before taking the issue to Parliament, The Daily Times has established.

On Tuesday DRTSS announced that it had until further notice, put on hold the miscellaneous fees and penalties without specifying reasons for the decision.

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But we have learnt that on Monday, the department met with joint Parliament committees on transport and public infrastructure, budget and finance and legal affairs to discuss the issue where it was noted that DRTSS rushed in announcing the new fees hike before taking the matter to the august House.

Chairperson of Transport and Public Infrastructure Committee Robert Mwina Thursday confirmed the reports.

“Indeed we had a meeting where we brought to their attention that section 58 of the Constitution requires that any subsidiary legislation be read before Parliament.

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“So the issue of discussing the fees issue [with us] was a nonstarter before writing Parliament. So they argued that traditionally [some government departments] have been implementing legislations without taking them to Parliament,” Mwina said.

He added that the lawmakers put to the department that they were free to proceed with their decision while warning that someone might challenge their decision in court.

“So we left it up to them to decide and the following day, we were told that they had suspended implementation.

“We can say that the meeting necessitated the u-turn because their aim was just to inform us because they had already made the decision. So we hope that they will bring it to Parliament when we convene next month,” he said.

In a written response, DRTSS Director Fergus Gondwe confirmed that they would like to fulfil other required procedures after being guided by the parliamentarians.

“The general public must know that this is not a cancellation but just postponement in order to enable the department fulfil the guidance by the parliamentarians,” Gondwe said.

In 2017, DRTSS also suspended new fines and penalties after the general public reacted angrily to what was described as punitive fines.

Social commentator Mustapha Hussein said this only exposes administrative inefficiencies.

“There should be proper consultation at the DRTSS and other stakeholders before such adjustments are made. But this shows that there is negligence among our government officials,” Hussein said.

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