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New transport regs 'snuck through'

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IOL mot pic aug2 Ian Ollis

INLSA

DA MP Ian Ollis says regulatory guidelines had been spurned. Picture Mxolisi Madela

Transport minister Ben Martins has “snuck through” changes to the National Road Traffic Regulations, bypassing Parliament, the DA claimed on Thursday.

Democratic Alliance MP Ian Ollis said: “Several amendments have been snuck through by the former (S'bu Ndebele) and the current (Martins) transport minister this year, without being referred to Parliament for comment, or allowing sufficient time for public input.”

Contacted for comment, ministry spokesman Tiyani Rikhotso said the minister was empowered by Parliament to make and publish regulations, “which are not inconsistent with the act, therefore this is the minister's competency area”.

He said this was done “in line with the assignment by the Constitution of various legislative competencies to the three tiers of government”.

Road traffic regulations were “made in accordance” with the provisions of the National Road Traffic Act, Rikhotso said.

NO LESS THAN FOUR WEEKS

Ollis said the act clearly stated that before regulations were made, the minister must refer a draft to Parliament for comment.

“The regulations must then be gazetted and accompanied by a notice calling for comment, objections or representations on the matter within the period specified within the notice, but no less than four weeks.”

Ollis said examples of how regulatory guidelines had been “spurned” included:

Legislation introducing special new traffic police officers, or “peace officers”, where the notice stated that interested persons had only 20 days to make representation, instead of the 28 days required by the act.

The publication of toll tariffs for different categories of road users and classes of motor vehicles. This notice had stated that the tariffs were payable from April 30 this year, giving the public 17 days to give their thoughts on the matter.

Changes governing, among other things, the registration and licensing of motor vehicles. These amendments “were never brought before Parliament”, and were also “cleverly published” over holiday periods, reducing the likelihood of input.

UNDERMINING PARLIAMENT

Ollis said: “It seems Minister Martins has decided to take up his predecessor's penchant for undermining Parliament by forcing through regulations and amendments, and skirting Clause 6 of the National Road Traffic Act.

He would be writing to the minister, he added, as well as the chairwoman of the transport portfolio committee, Ruth Bhengu, demanding that appropriate procedures be followed. - Sapa

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