Friday 14 August, Honiara – The Executive Group of the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI) and the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) have reiterated their call to the Ministry of Infrastructure Development (MID) to convene the Road Transport Board (RTB).
The Executive Group, established under the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed in 2008, met for the third time this year on Friday 7 August.
Among items on the agenda was a presentation of updates from the Group’s Traffic Sub-committee which focuses on finding sustainable solutions to the issue of traffic congestion in Honiara City.
Mr Toata Molea, Honiara businessman and SICCI representative on the Traffic Sub-committee, stressed that their recommendations can only be addressed if the RTB is functioning.
“Until the RTB is operating, the RSIPF has no power in imposing penalties when taking control of the traffic management in Honiara City, and that is why we want this forum (SICCI-RSIPF Executive Group) to reiterate our call for the RTB to convene,” Mr Toata said.
The Sub-committee comprises of the Director Traffic within RSIPF, Mr Fred Satu, Mr Molea and Sir Bruce Saunders representing SICCI (businesses) and representatives from the Honiara Public Transport Association.
It was agreed during the Executive Group meeting that the SICCI Board Chairman and RSIPF Commissioner will sign a joint letter to the Chairman of the Permanent Secretary of MID requesting the RTB to convene a meeting in order to consider the recommendations made by the Traffic Sub-committee.
The RTB was set up by the 2009 Traffic Amendment Act. This Act placed responsibility for the licensing and regulation of road transport, and the enforcement of traffic regulations with the RTB.
The Board itself will consist of a mix of Government representatives, RSIPF and key stakeholders including the Permanent Secretary of MID as the Chairperson, Clerk of the Honiara City Council (HCC), the Commissioner of Police (or the Commissioner’s nominee), the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Provincial Government (or the PS’s nominee), the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Commerce (or the PS’s nominee), the Chief Mechanical Engineer of MID, a representative of the Chamber of Commerce (SICCI) and a representative each from taxi and bus operators.
It is common knowledge that adhoc parking at the Fishing village market and the bus bay at the Honiara Central Market are the cause of the congestion experienced in the Honiara on a daily basis.
“But without the RTB, Police does not have the authority to give infringement notices and enforce them. Only the RTB can have this power as stipulated in the Traffic (Amendment) Act,” says Mr Toata.
The RTB has not been activated since its establishment in 2009.
According to the Act, the functions of the RTB are (a) to formulate, implement, monitor and review policies in relation to road transport, in conjunction with the functions of the Ministry to formulate nation transport policy; (b) to coordinate the implementation, administration and enforcement of this Act; (c) to prepare and submit quarterly reports to the Minister on the implementation, administration and enforcement of this Act; (d) to submit to the Minister any information in relation to this Act, if so required by the Minister; and (e) other functions given to it under this Act or any other written law.
The objective of the Act can be achieved by the activation of the RTB.
SICCI maintains that better improved flowing of traffic supports daily business activity and indicates a fast-growing economy.
Advocacy Officer, Mr John Ta’amora highlighted that the combination of continued economic growth and an increasing population means that congestion in Honiara City is only going to get worse if not managed properly and in a well-coordinated manner.
“Convening the Road Transport Board (RTB) will be a significant step towards driving improvements to traffic congestion in Honiara which will not only impact productivity for private sector but will also ensure that public servants get to work on time which in turn will positively improve the performance of our public service and our students will be able to arrive in schools on time,” Mr Ta’amora said.