By MORGAN ADDERLEY
Tribune Staff Reporter
OPPOSITION leader Philip “Brave” Davis is calling for the Minnis administration to “revamp the entire road traffic regime” — particularly reiterating calls for the government to add an amendment to the Road Traffic Act to increase penalties for those who kill in the course of dangerous driving.
Mr Davis also criticised the government’s position on the Commercial Enterprise Act, amendments to the Immigration Act, and the Investment Incentive Act, noting these “roll back all of the gains and protections this country has secured for Bahamians” over the last half a century.
He added these bills illustrate the Free National Movement’s “ideological mindset” to “pursue a complete open border policy” in the Bahamas’ small, vulnerable economy, with “no consideration” for the economic and social welfare of Bahamians.
Mr Davis made these remarks yesterday during his monthly press briefing at the Progressive Liberal Party’s headquarters.
Noting the Bill to Amend the Road Traffic Act is currently before the Senate, Mr Davis underscored the amendments “effectively criminalise” using a cell phone while driving and driving without a driver’s licence.
“The bill, however, does not address the serious charge of ‘killing in the course of dangerous driving’,” Mr Davis said.
He added the party stands with its spokesperson on transport, Glenys Hanna Martin, “in calling for the government to continue the work of the last PLP government in this area and revamp the entire road traffic legislative regime.”
“We again publicly challenge the government to bring an amendment to the Road Traffic Bill to either the lower or upper House to deal with fatalities in road traffic accidents,” Mr Davis continued.
“I think this morning you saw where someone was just fined $10,000 or thereabouts for the loss of lives. The families of victims who lost their lives in the cause of dangerous driving have suffered long enough and need closure for their loved ones through the administration of justice.”
On Monday, a man was fined $10,000 in a Magistrate’s Court for hitting and killing a motorcyclist with his truck last month while another driver received the same fine for causing the death of a pedestrian in another crash.
The Road Traffic Amendment Act 2019 was passed in one sitting of Parliament on March 26 after being tabled last September. At the time, Mrs Hanna Martin criticised the government for failing to enact legislation drafted by the former Christie administration, adding the Minnis administration chose to use certain part of it.
“Even if this government did not accept aspects of the policies driving the bill, certainly the bill must have provided a solid foundation for reform; after all this time should we have not seen some appropriate version brought forward,” Mrs Hanna Martin said in Parliament.
“The draft bill addressed this vexing issue specifically provided for prison sentences of up to 10 years and disqualification of driver’s licence to replace the current minimal penalties in place for causing death,” she added.
During his remarks yesterday, Mr Davis also said while the lines that differentiate the PLP from the FNM have been “blurred”, there are three bills which “draw very clear and very distinct philosophical, legislative, and policy lines” between the two parties.
These bills are the Commercial Enterprise Act, amendments to the Immigration Act, and the Investment Incentive Act.
“We publicly decry the FNMs who are blindly supporting these proposed amendments to the Immigration Act that supports this smokescreen of a bill called the Commercial Enterprises Bill,” Mr Davis said.
He added as many FNMs are professionals who benefited from the PLP’s “Bahamianisation” policies and a rigid immigration regime, it is “disgraceful” that the government “proposes to pass a bill to allow professionals to walk into this country without a work permit for two weeks on the premise that they are attending a meeting.”
He also said: “The PLP is diametrically opposed to these bills as harmful and injurious to the economic mobility and empowerment of Bahamians. It threatens their ability to own and manage the Bahamian economy.
“They will reduce economic opportunities for Bahamians, a right that Bahamians have been calling for and is their expectation. We, therefore, publicly call on the FNM senators to kill this bill in the Senate.”