Fluorescent jackets : Government reviews its decision after protest

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Hello!

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?

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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:

  1. 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?
  2. 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?
  3. 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?
  4. 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

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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!

The protest

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.
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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 :

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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  :

  1. The “yellow plates” regulations which have never been talked again (Read here)
  2. The defective speed cameras which flashed randomly (Read here)
  3. 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?

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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!

  • reenadkl

    It was just a strategy for ti-copains to sell the jackets of Rs75 at Rs200!!! This law was not properly studied before being passed. The scooters, bicycles etc were left out…why??? Do the persons riding them become fluorescent at night? :P Thank God we saw a manifest which am proud of…sad to say..’ti-dimounes’ plus solidaire ki ban imbéciles ki croire dot trop extra!!! Like you mentioned, what about the public beach? the CT power etc??? No one cares, sadly..the few who do cannot do anything by themselves :( But thumbs up for those who were at the manifest!!!

  • tambourette

    I think both sides didn’t do their job properly.

    When I first read about the protest, I thought, why would people protest about something that only serve to keep them safe? is it that bad to wear a fluorescent jacket that could help save your life? My understanding was that the protesters didn’t want to wear them.

    Now from your article, I understand that they were protesting against the implementation of this law: one size only and lack of specs until now.

    This is where the gov failed. They pass laws willy nilly without thinking about the implementation.

    It is true though that motorcyclists are most at risk of accidents on our island, so this law to make them visible is welcome. If you can wear this jacket at night, I don’t see why it is such a big deal to wear it during the day too.

    It would be advisable for cyclists to wear it too but they usually move more slowly, cycle on the side and more rarely at night. How many cyclists have you seen on the main roads at midnight? What cyclists really need to start with are lights. I’m guilty myself of cycling at dusk without lights. My excuse is that I’m only round the corner from my house!

  • cokefest

    Would it not be easier to get something that is reflective on the bike itself (detachable). Sorry not sure because I don’t ride a bike.

  • http://www.yashvinblogs.com Yashvin Awootar

    Thanks for again mentioning an interesting point – Making the bike visible, just as I proposed in the post.

    Isn’t the lights (front and back) on the motorbike supposed to help in that? So, why do authorities need additional reflective materials? Of course, authorities should first of all ensure that all vehicles (sorry, motorbikes) are properly fitted with lights in working conditions but you don’t need to win a loto jackpot to spot those “defective” motorbikes on our roads!

  • cokefest

    Ooo sorry you did mention that :) I am more pissed off that some poor people got jackets and now they are illegal. Does not sound like they gave this much thought at all (as in your other points).

  • http://www.yashvinblogs.com Yashvin Awootar

    No need to be sorry, in fact, I completely second what you said too :-)
    Yes, just like the sales of all types of “yellow plates”, tThe sale of fluo jackets was a fruitful business too, at the expense of the poorer ones who can’t afford a 4-wheel vehicle.

  • AshvinDX

    1. The new regulation says after sunset? Which means nobody will wear them at 6 pm in summer… that’s the peak hour!
    2. Most motorcycles don’t have working headlights. 90% of all whom I spot do not turn on their headlights or have faulty headlights. As a drive for many years, I agree that in many places, motorcycles are hard to spot during DAY itself!
    3. Sad to see so many people manifesting when it’s something selfish, and not for the beach, CT Power or electoral system reform (UN is asking our PM for this again).

  • http://www.yashvinblogs.com Yashvin Awootar

    I think you are wrong. It should be worn between 6pm and 6am, or perhaps you just confused yourself while writing part of this comment.

    Faulty lights yes, probably hundreds of them driving at night. It would be a good thing if existing laws are reinforced instead of applying new ones made in a haste.

    Yes, Mauritians should protest for other injustice too. But one should ask thyself : Have I ever participated or assisted a protest? I have so many friends who are just criticising behind their screens. This should change.

  • AshvinDX

    Sorry, if it’s from 6 pm to 6 am, it’s good. I thought I heard on the radio that it would be from half an hour after sunset to half an hour before sunrise.

  • http://www.yashvinblogs.com Yashvin Awootar

    I hope that I haven’t introduced any confusion here.
    This info needs official confirmation.

  • http://www.yashvinblogs.com Yashvin Awootar

    Voilà du concret :P

    Question > Le port du gilet réfléchissant sera obligatoire la nuit, c’est-à-dire une demi-heure après le coucher du soleil et jusqu’à une demi-heure avant son lever. N’est-ce pas plus pratique d’établir des heures fixes ?

    Mr B, Buntipillay : Nous devons agir selon la loi concernant les « hours of darkness ». La Road Traffic (Construction and Use of Vehicles) Regulation stipule que « Hours of darkness mean the time between half an hour after sunset and half an hour before sunrise ». Ce règlement date de très longtemps, il a été réactualisé en 2010. Il prescrit les heures durant lesquelles les phares des véhicules, y compris les bicyclettes, doivent être allumés. –

    Source: http://www.defimedia.info/defi-quotidien/dq-actualites/item/45233-le-conseiller-ben-buntipilly-je-lutterai-contre-l-insecurite-peu-importe-ou-je-suis.html

  • Bernardo

    Dimoune per protester pou pas met zilet la lejour. Or meme lejour zilet la pou definitivement servi. Li 1 fait ki meme lizour, 1 dimoune avec 1 zilet fluo pou boucou plis visib ki 1 dimoune sans zilet. Mo penser la loi la ti cav sov la vie dimoune. Eski li pli importan pou zot paret sexy, bien habiller, stylish ou bien rest en vie?

    Li trist ki dimoune dan moris manifester cont 1 la loi ki kav sov zot la vie, mais pas manifester kan ena ban central ki pou poluer zot latmosfer ou kan bien public (couma laplaz) per dilapider

    Par contre, li vrai ki guvernma pas fin assez donne letemp dimoune pou preparer… la lwa la fin implementer a la va vite

  • ledinesh

    never underestimate the power of commen men :p people who are on 2 wheelers did ‘desan lor coltar’ to change the way authorities imposed on them.

    however i do acknowledge like others that at night they are rarely visible, im talking for those who dont have working rearlights and on top of that, they wear dark clothes. i’ve noticed its only when people drive fast that they dont see the rear light of a motorcycle until they come pretty close to it. :) and not to mention those teenagers and showoffs who customize their rear light with some sort of carbon wrapping and only a thin margin is left to be shown.

    now about the fluo vest, as far as i remember, it was announced since november and i know some big bikers who put it in practiced immediately me being one of them too. upon its introduction on market as from really late december, they were many kind being sold, once again resulting in the same mess as yellow plates. i’ve heard people saying that some places its being sold at rs500. seriously. im not for it during the day for common bikes, if someone wants to see them better, b roule imper plus doucement so that champs de vision is large enough :) but again you cant do nothing if an a**hole overtakes you on the left..

    those fluo vest are so baggy, i wouldn’t ever want to try them out. i had bought one online for rs2000, slim, to my size, and most importantly fits my protection jacket which costed me rs 14,000 the jacket alone and ive to add gloves, shoes and kneeprotection to its cost!! however it has reflective strips but not 50mm so again…….. banla pou prend la regle pou cheker aster ??

    i personally would agree to wear a vest when doing long routes even in daylight provided that i am wearing something decent enough as being a biker is really tough [wearing of a protection jacket which has iron-like material all over it and that too under the sun] sans oublier all the money invested + having a cheap rs75 gilet doesnt match.. and yes the visibility is not so high as all equipments are mostly of dark colours.. as for the night, im for it, again that being in the category i am, 250cc bike, i would want to wear something im confortable with, not those baggy fluo vests which could be a danger while doing a roundabout. yeah, big bikes arent like 125cc bikes, guidon la pas tourner meme. c’est pilote la qui bizin balance so lecorps donc imagine someone p fer roundabout and then gusts of winds come and disbalance the rider.

    awaiting for a fluo backpack right now, again cost is high.. imagine you are a worker who must carry his bag to work on a bike, how would you operate ? people who thought of this drive in big cars actually. they never experienced being on 2 wheels. :|

    its a good law personally mais just that they should have thought of it WELL before imposing so that they dont make morons out of themselves but like always, they did.

  • Abhimanyu SADAFUL

    I have seen this before. In my opinion the real people governing any country is the civil service; think about it, government come and go but civil servants keep their jobs. Furthermore, I am sure that the laws, rules and regulation are written by the civil servants, consequently it is clear to me that it is more a matter of incompetence rather than anything else. Having said that, I also think that people at the head of the government have the responsibility to check what incompetent civil servant do. Far from the idea of defending anybody but it is a shared responsibility.

    Anyway the questions are:
    What are the reason behind wearing the visibility for cyclists?
    Isn’t wearing the current visibility jacket better than not wearing any?
    Shouldn’t we be protesting to change the colours rather that not wearing it during the day?

  • http://www.thatmauritius.com/ ThatsMauritius

    Shame it has come to this. Safety should be everybody’s concern. Mauritius safety records is very bad overall, whether it’s road safety, construction safety, fire safety etc… it’s not strict enough. Some of you think it’s crazy but if you have an open mind about it and have done a bit of travelling you probably have noticed those safety vest all over the place. Safety is about assessing your risks and making the right decision to avoid hurting yourself and others.

    @yashvinawootar:disqus love your work bud.
    Check out thatsmauritius.com bragging and ranting platform all things mauritius

  • http://www.yashvinblogs.com Yashvin Awootar

    Hi.
    Thanks for the comments and the link.
    Looks like a new site with good prospects which makes me remember http://www.cleverdodo.mu.
    If it is yours, good luck! Yashvinblogs is here if you want to write a guest post :-)