UP MP Rolando Brison.
~ Improve heavy equipment inspection ~
PHILIPSBURG--United People's (UP) party Member of Parliament (MP) Rolando Brison said he has drafted a law adjusting the Motor Vehicle Inspection Ordinance to improve heavy equipment vehicle inspection and for road tax and car rental fees to go directly to the St. Maarten Road Fund to be used exclusively for road improvements and repairs.
According to Brison, in the draft, it is made so that 70% of road tax, inspection fees and car rental tax will go directly to the road fund, rather than 100% of just the road tax.
Brison said in a press release that the draft law is under review and will likely soon return to Parliament for handling. If approved, Brison said his draft law will establish an appropriate inspection standard and fee for heavy equipment vehicles, among other adjustments.
He expressed concern about major traffic accidents and said the quality of roads could contribute negatively to road safety. He also said that while heavy equipment vehicle operators are a critical part of the country’s economic development, the operators often get "a bad rap."
"We have not been fair and balanced in our approach. We must ensure that all vehicles have inspection criteria and different fees to reflect their different class."
Brison believes that accidents can worsen if nothing is done. "The trauma from road accidents can have a lasting and harmful impact on the lives of those involved, their families, and our community. Considering the need to improve our road safety and the quality of our roads, I brought forward this legislation to Parliament to make road safety, road maintenance and securing funds for roadworks year-round a reality in St. Maarten," said Brison.
The draft law will also allow the introduction of an appropriate fee to expand the level of inspection that container trucks and other large/heavy equipment vehicles will have to undergo to be roadworthy. Brison said existing legislation limits fees for all vehicle inspections at NAf. 37.50 for vehicles of all sizes.
"In fairness to the operators of heavy vehicles, they have operated under limited inspection regulations and lack of inspection facility, through no fault of their own. These heavy equipment vehicles are necessary for our daily economic activity, infrastructural development and sustainability," said Brison.
The Vehicle Inspection Service facility on Soualiga Road in Philipsburg cannot accommodate inspecting heavy vehicles, and any future accommodation for these massive vehicles will require substantial investments on the part of the operators. "Once these heavy equipment vehicles are properly inspected, our society will undoubtedly be more comfortable as our roads will be safer. However, it comes at a cost that we cannot reasonably expect the operators of the vehicle inspection service to pay based on existing regulations on fees," said Brison.
Government also faces a challenge when creating its annual operating budget and considering road improvement needs.
Brison said he learnt that no government had allocated funds specifically for roadworks because the legislation states that 100% of the road tax should go to the Road Fund. “The existing legislation is not sustainable for government because part of the road tax collected has to pay for the administration and management of the entire process of road tax collection.”
The draft legislation seeks to address that problem. It also allows the road tax to be spent directly on road repairs and improvements at a more realistic ratio. "The General Audit Chamber correctly pointed out that the Road Fund was not being funded by the road tax as it should by law.