Heavy fines ahead for abandoning boats
People who abandon boats will be hit by heavier fines under new legislation, transport minister Zane DeSilva warned.
Mr DeSilva told the House of Assembly on Friday the existing fines are too low considering the cost to Government of removing the boats.
He said: “We are going to be looking to bring legislation to change that. It may have been talked about last year, but I can assure you that it will be done before this year’s over. The fee will be quite substantial.
“You can imagine what it costs to remove a boat. It takes barges and cranes sometimes, so it ain’t going to be cheap. If you abandon a boat, you will have to pay a price.”
He added that the Government would look at taking a similar approach to abandoned cars.
Mr DeSilva said he and his department had received numerous calls about abandoned vehicles during his time as Minister of Tourism and Transport.
He said: “Our department have responded very well and we have been successful in removing cars, but it’s important for folks to know it’s not as simple as removing abandoned cars.
“You can’t do much if someone wants to keep vehicles or a boat in their yard.”
The comments came during the debate on the 2019-20 Budget for the Department of Marine and Ports, the Transport Control Department and Department of Public Transport.
Mr DeSilva reiterated that an announcement about the new bus schedule would come next week, and the schedule would cover an 18-month period.
He said: “As soon as the announcement is made next week, we will start working on the schedule in the future.
“Hopefully, we will see the end of cancellations, even with our fleet reduced to 50 vehicles.”
He said four new buses were delivered to the island last year and the 14 buses bought in 2009 have been refurbished to extend their operational life by five years.
Mr DeSilva said a further eight buses have been ordered and an RFP will be issued this year for the next generation of buses.
Work will be done to improve the passenger experience with continued training for staff and the introduction of electronic fare systems. Leah Scott, the deputy Opposition leader, also questioned Mr DeSilva about ride-sharing apps such as Uber and Lyft, and asked if those were being considered for the island.
Mr DeSilva said the island did have Hitch, which allowed customers to order registered taxis, and the upcoming Green Paper would tackle the issue of taxis among other aspects of public transportation.
He said: “I think we are all aware of the complaints from people about taxi service in the country, and I think that the much talked about Green Paper is coming much sooner than people think.
“I can’t say when you are going to get it, but I will say that I have a draft.”