The Island Traffic Authority (ITA) is reporting a 74.4% increase in applications for Special Permits from heavy duty vehicle operators wishing to haul loads above the Road Traffic Regulations weight limits, since December, 2009, compared to the same period of 2008-2009.
Director of the ITA, Paul Clemetson, attributed the increase to the heightened public education and enforcement activities of ITA, under its Vehicle Weight Enforcement Programme, launched in December, 2009.
Speaking at a recent JIS Think Tank, Mr. Clemetson said that the ITA Weight Enforcement Team has been steadfast in its efforts to inform truckers of established weight limits and the attendant penalties for non-compliance. The team, he informed, has also been making stakeholders presentations, islandwide, to haulage contractors and organizations utilizing their services.
Since December, 2009, ITA has reportedly received a total of 620 Special Permit applications, 461 more than the 159 received for the corresponding period of 2008-2009.
A Special Permit is a legal document that enables the owner or operator of a vehicle to haul loads above those outlined in the Road Traffic Regulations, but within those established standards set by the ITA. Without the document, haulage operators found with excess weight will be prosecuted.
Mr. Clemetson noted that ITA’s ability to process the increased volume of applications has been vastly improved, thanks to the efforts of a sub-committee established by the ITA Board to focus exclusively on Special Permit applications.
“What was observed was that, instead of relating to policy matters and being more strategic in their deliberations, a lot of time was consumed in processing Special Permits. So a sub-committee was formed and a process which had a turnaround time of one month has been reduced to a maximum of two weeks,” stated the ITA Head, as he explained the rationale for the sub-committee.
He also issued an appeal to haulage operators to ensure that they are fair and transparent in all their transactions with the ITA.
“We’d just like to indicate to all truckers that you do not have to try to engage in any effort to circumvent the process, or even to accelerate the process. The process is one established fairly for everyone and no one should allow themselves to be influenced otherwise,” urged Mr. Clemetson.
He disclosed that, starting May, ITA will be removing the “kid gloves” used during the past three months of its Public Education Programme and will be operating solely in an enforcement mode, where offenders will be prosecuted for acts of non-compliance.
Presently, the minimum fine for offenders is approximately $800. This, Mr. Clemetson acknowledged, is woefully inadequate, considering that some trucks are overloaded by in excess of 10,000 kilograms, causing immense damage to the nation’s roadways.
“That is something that has been addressed and so persons will recognize that the minimum fine for overloaded vehicles will be increased,” he said.
He said, however, that tougher penalties will be introduced when proposed weight enforcement related amendments to the Road Traffic Regulations are passed into law.