State, military and police-owned vehicles that have been permitted to ply on the road without motor insurance for many years will soon be reversed with plans to amend the Motor Traffic Act to ensure compulsory insurance for this category, officials said.
The existing laws that exempt such establishments were old and archaic and as a result, victims of accidents involving state-owned vehicles have to go to courts to claim compensation, he added.
The need to amend the law has arisen due to the increase in accidents involving state vehicles including the military and the police, he added. Most of these accident victims have not been able to claim insurance due to prolonged legal procedures. He said that compensation, under current procedures, will be made available only if it is proved in courts that the driver of the military or police or state owned vehicle is responsible for the accident.
When contacted, Commissioner General of Motor Traffic B.D.L. Dharmapriya, told the Business Times, “These laws are to be amended as there are more vehicles on the roads now and these changes to the law take some time.” He said under the current system, whenever there is an accident, the aggrieved party has to go to courts to claim compensation, and it takes time. Sometimes accident victims claim their own insurance, as claiming compensation through courts is a lengthy process, he added. He revealed that all state vehicles are issued with revenue licenses free of charge and the government coffers have to bear the cost.
However the emission-testing certificate is compulsory for all vehicles including state-owned vehicles. He said vehicles that do not meet proposed exhaust emission standards will not be given revenue licences as testing is mandatory for owners to get the annual licenses. The move was part of efforts to improve the air quality in the island, especially in Colombo, where pollution levels are high owing to a concentration of vehicles.
At a recent seminar in Colombo on air pollution issues, it was pointed out that in compulsory emission tests for motorists, vehicle owners have to undergo inconvenient and expensive tests to obtain their annual revenue licenses while buses and lorries and other heavy vehicles continue to emit huge amount of fumes and there is no attempt to control or restrict them.
It was also noted that while the air quality levels in Colombo were poor, at most Colombo schools the nursery and kindergarten classes are located near the entrance of the schools where the area is most polluted and the pollutants are inhaled by the children.