7 Dec 2011

A legal conundrum presented

I have been self-employed as a maxi-taxi owner/operator for 12 years. I previously held a Priority Bus Route (PBR) pass, which expired on October 31, and I recently tried to obtain a new PBR pass.

I have written to the Ministry of Transport and, since I received no reply, I personally visited its office at Tower D on the Waterfront.

Ministry officials confirmed they had received my letter, which had been forwarded to the Works Ministry. I was taken aback on being informed there was nothing the Transport Ministry could do to help me, and I needed to raise the matter with the Works Ministry.

I pointed out that under the Highways Act Chapter 48 Part 1B Section 2f, the use of the PBR is to be by (among other provisions) "such other vehicles as are authorised with the approval of Cabinet, by the Minister to whom responsibility for the administration of national transport is assigned".

I attempted to explain to the staff at the Ministry of Transport that the law indicates the Minister of Transport is the one designated to preside over the issuance of such permits.

I was informed that jurisdiction over the PBR remained with the Ministry of Works when the two areas were split into different ministries. It appears to me that there exists a problem since the law states one thing, but the ministries are telling you something different.

If I get a PBR pass from the Ministry of Works, when the law indicates that such a document should be issued by the Ministry of Transport, I may be in an ambiguous legal situation.

If the law is followed strictly, then any PBR pass issued by the Ministry of Works would not be valid. If I attempt to use such a pass, and I am stopped by the police, can I be arrested?

Is this also the case for all the passes issued by the Ministry of Works since being split from the Ministry of Transport? If so, then we are facing a major headache, with several people using the PBR illegally, though unaware of the illegality.

I am asking that the relevant ministries to please clarify the situation and advise the public accordingly, since I am certain I am not the only one who wants to avoid being placed in an uncertain legal situation.

H Lee

I would be very interested in a response to your letter, Mr Lee. Although I have a funny feeling it will never be answered until someone is given such a ticket and a defence is filed in court.

Here is another situation which will remain unresolved. I had previously written about it.