Welcome back to the blog for this first post for 2014
Let’s go directly to today’s topic!
By reviewing the new regulation forcing motorcycle riders to wear fluorescent jackets during both day and night since the 1st January 2014, the government has once more shown that decisions are taken haphazardly and that the population still hold some power! After today’s protest in Port Louis, the special adviser in road safety of the Prime Minister has officially announced that motorcycle riders won’t have to wear those jackets during the day anymore.
Why are people against it?
Despite all the reasons published by the media and on the social networks, some people still fail to understand why part of the population is creating a fuss about this new regulation. I will try to sum up these points below:
- I can’t deny this fact : It is indeed very hard to see some motorcycle riders at night. But why the day? On top of being a unpractical and really inconvenient, does it mean that motorcycle riders are not visible enough during the day? So in that case, other road users are not visible too? In that case, should not the authorities require every road user (including pedestrians) to wear them too?
- The campaign for wearing these jackets have started long time back, probably 2 months ago but at no instance, they talked about the requirements of those jackets. It is only after the application of the law that the authorities announced that most of the jackets were non compliant : There should have at least 2 horizontal bars and 2 vertical bars at the front and back. Additionally, those fluorescent bars need to be of some minimum width and color. So, what about those thousands of (non-compliant) jackets already purchased by the motorcycle riders?
- All of the jackets on sale in the whole island are of one size only. Then, how about kids? And those slim or big persons? Isn’t is more dangerous to make a child wear that jacket? Shouldn’t the government have thought about importing or providing the necessary permits to put on sale those regulated jackets?
- The government is forcing the use of those jackets. But what about those riders who already have professional and specialized motor jackets with the necessary fluorescent materials? Will they need to wear that “cheap” jacket over their costly equipment?
Improving the regulation
The authorities have implemented a new regulation without any consultation with the stakeholders. This is nothing new in our island. The law is made and voted by people who move around in big luxury cars, sometimes escorted by police. How can they understand the feeling of that guy who needs to carry his wife and bag to work daily on the cycle? Or that dholl-puri seller (marsand dal pouri) who rides his cycle daily over kms to earn his life?
Coming to the use of those jackets during the day, I believe that all motorcycle riders could simply be requested to light up their motor lights while moving around, just like those bigger motorcycles. I can’t confirm but more powerful motorcycles (above
150cc 125 cc) need to turn on their lights even during the day. This helps a lot since with their lights on, they become visible from a very far distance.
Next, why have this regulation been applied to motorcycle riders only? What about those electric scooter riders? I talked about this topic previously in this blog post in 2010.
As compared to other road users, they are a real danger for several reasons, including the lack of formation or knowledge in our “code de la route” but yet, they are allowed to ride nearly everywhere on our roads. And what about bicycle riders? Are they more visible than motorcycle riders?
If there was a real determination to make road users visible, these fluorescent jackets should have been mandatory for ALL two-wheeler riders, not just motorcycle riders!
If you follow me on Facebook, you have probably come across those live pictures of the protest in front of the Government House at Place d’Armes. Since I work in Port Louis, I did not hesitate to go there today. On reaching there, I was happy to see that people moved there in mass. Although the published figure of 500 persons (by l’express) is not huge, it showed that many people indeed care to come, whether or not they own a motorcycle. Shame to those who only know to rant on social networks!
At some moment, the traffic event came to a stand-still because of the huge mass of people and motorcycles parked practically everywhere in a real mess.
Several police jeeps arrived after a few minutes and at some point of time, a big van of SSU (Special Supporting Unit) even drove in but quickly moved away. After-all, it was a pacific protest. Authorities should understand that we are in a democratic country, despite we have the regular impression of being deprived of our fundamental rights.
There were easily about hundred motorcycles parked, several journalists, cameras and a phenomenal number of mobile phones to record the event. And police cameramen were there too :
Too bad for those who already gave in their bio-metric picture in the new ID Card. You can now more easily be identified xD
Not the first time, uh!
Ironically, this is not the first time that the government steps back on one of its own decisions. Very recently, the special adviser (Mr B.Buntipillay) *again* made a declaration to the media, specifying that the government will apply a new law, forbidding pedestrians to use mobile phones. It was a big lol and again, there was a big fuss again about this. A few days later, he made another statement to say that the government abandoned that idea. lol. You can read about this on my blog post here.
And for those who want to go further back in time, some of the other recent failures are :
- The “yellow plates” regulations which have never been talked again (Read here)
- The defective speed cameras which flashed randomly (Read here)
- The free meal in ZEP schools which was cancelled temporarily after 90 students were poisoned because of lack of control of the food served (Read here)
Some months back, I wrote another article on those failures. You can read it here.
What’s in the future?
It is however unfortunate that people move in mass like today so rarely. If similar protests were held against the privatization of the beaches (for example, Mon Choisy), giving away permits and lands to “petits copains” (like the restaurant Pandit in Trou aux Biches), the new bio-metric National ID card or even the CT Power project, the government should have been forced to review its strategies and decision for the well being of both the government and the people contributing to the tax here.
To end, I will congratulate everyone present today. There’s still some hope… We are not in Ramgooland anymore!