Assembly approves amended Bill to increase age to ride a motorcycle from 16 to 18 |25 September 2019
A proposed amendment to increase the age for a person to ride a motorcycle from 16 to 18 has been approved by Assembly members.
The approval came after a new paragraph was inserted to read as follows: “a person above the age of 16 and below the age of 18 shall be granted a licence to drive a motor cycle or scooter having the motor capacity of 100cc or less”.
The bill was approved as amended 22 in favour and nobody against.
It was the Minister for Land Transport, Pamela Charlette, who presented the Bill to amend a section of the Road Transport Act.
She said in her presentation that it was earlier this year, more precisely in April, that the cabinet of ministers approved to increase the minimum age for a person to possess a licence and ride a motorcycle from 16 to 18.
She noted that the Road Transport Act Cap206 states that no licence shall be granted to a person who is under the age of 18 years provided that a licence to drive a motorcycle may be granted to a person over the age of 16 years.
As it is now a person aged 16 years can obtain a motorcycle licence.
Minister Charlette went on to add that more than seven to 10 years ago the government lifted restrictions on the importation of motorcycles following pressure from the public and this has resulted in an increase of more than 500% on the importation of motorcycles and scooters in the country. Over 75% of people who ride motorcycles and scooters are young people.
Minister Charlette reminded Assembly members that the restriction was lifted to increase mobility among young people as they could easily navigate through traffic congestions.
“With the increase in motorcycles and scooters, concerned authorities have observed a drastic increase in fatal accidents involving this form of transport and other irresponsible and negligent behaviour among motorcycle and scooter riders,” she said.
Thirty-two accidents in 2017 involved motorcycles and scooters among which three were fatal and the victims were young riders. Last year out of 42 motorcycle and scooter accidents four were fatal and three involved young people. This year, up to now, 85 accidents involving the mentioned form of transport have been recorded from which one was fatal and a young rider was killed.
“The Road Safety Advisory Committee, the police, other concerned authorities as well as road users are concerned by these alarming statistics and they are calling for action to be taken to reduce accidents involving motorcycles and scooters and during different forums the strongest proposition is to increase the age to ride a motorcycle and scooter from 16 to 18 years,” Minister Charlette explained.
She further noted that this proposition has been approved and included in the new Road Safety Policy approved by the cabinet of ministers.
She further noted that the amendment is in line with good practices being applied in other countries and that the concerned authorities are confident that the amendment will improve security on the roads as motorcycle riders will be more mature and responsible.
The majority of members who intervened on the proposed amendment argued that it defeats the purpose that the restriction on the importation of this form of transport was lifted in the first place and it will penalise those young riders who are responsible and use their vehicle well.
LDS MNA Norbert Loizeau argued that traffic police and other concerned authorities should focus on enforcing existing traffic regulations and taking severe action against all irresponsible motorists and reckless drivers.
He noted that a new law and increasing the age to ride a motorcycle will not reduce accidents. A point that other members from LDS like Ahmed Afif and Sandy Arrissol also agreed.
For United Seychelles MNA Sebastien Pillay, through the amendment the authorities is seeking to protect and save the lives of our young people riding motorcycles and scooters.
He pointed out that all vehicle users should take their responsibility on the road more seriously noting that whatever happens on the roads should not be blamed on the police alone but on all motorists.
He said motorists and other road users should continuously be educated and made aware of their responsibilities and how to respect other road users.
United Seychelles MNA Waven William for his part argued that all concerned authorities should work more in collaboration and consult each other to better ensure proper enforcement on our roads.
The leader of the opposition Wavel Ramkalawan said the cabinet did not study statistics closely and its decision is based on emotion and that motorcycles should not be blamed for accidents as often it is four wheel vehicles that hit motorcycles. The leader of government business, Charles de Commarmond, for his part, argued that the statistics presented do not represent the true situation and the reality and do not detail if the young riders were responsible for the accidents among other related issues.
At the end of the lengthy debate members voted 12 for nobody against on the merit and principles of the amendment but in the committee stage they discussed different propositions as to how best to improve on the amendment so it reflects and take into consideration the country’s developments and present day reality.
The Assembly also started debate on a motion asking ministries to pay small contractors on time after they have successfully completed work as per their contracts.
The Assembly continues its deliberations today.