June 22, 2023 -PHILIPSBURG–Leader of the United People’s UP Party and Member of Parliament, the Honourable MP Rolando Brison, has introduced a new draft law adjusting the Motor Vehicle Inspection Ordinance to improve heavy equipment vehicle inspection and guaranteeing that road tax and car rental fees paid annually by motorists go directly to the St. Maarten Road Fund to be used exclusively for road improvements and repairs.
The draft law is under review and will likely soon return to the Parliament of St. Maarten for final approval. If approved, MP Brison’s new draft law will finally establish an appropriate inspection standard and fee for heavy equipment vehicles, among other adjustments.
In a press release issued Monday, MP Brison expressed his concern about cases of major traffic accidents in general and said the quality of our roads could contribute negatively to road safety for pedestrians and motorists. He also said that while heavy equipment vehicle operators are a critical part of our 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.”
While discussing road safety, the MP mentioned a traffic accident involving a heavy vehicle that occurred Friday night on A.J.C. Brouwer Road, which interrupted traffic for several hours while police and emergency services attended to those involved. “Thankfully, no one was seriously injured, and I wish those involved a swift recovery,” said Brison.
MP Brison believes these 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 MP Brison.
His 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.
Existing legislations limit fees for all vehicle inspection 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 to no fault of their own. These heavy equipment vehicles are necessary for our daily economic activity, infrastructural development, and sustainability,” said MP 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 MP Brison.
The Government also faces a challenge when creating its annual operating budget and considering road improvement needs.
While researching for the draft law, MP Brison said he learnt that no government had ever allocated funds specifically for roadworks because the legislation states that 100 per cent 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.
Brison’s draft legislation seeks to solve that problem that has existed for decades. Finally, it 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. So in this draft, we make it so that 70% of road tax, inspection fees and car rental tax will go directly to the road fund, rather than just 100% of the road tax only,” said MP Brison.
MP Brison believes that with these changes in the law, the Road Fund for St. Maarten will finally be a reality, and the public will see much better roads due to his new draft law allocating funds to go directly towards the repair of roads.