PVMC legal powers to seize road unworthiness vehicles

The Port Vila Municipal Council is surprised that many drivers in town do not know that Municipal Wardens can detain motor vehicles whose drivers break road traffics.

There are provisions under section 54B of the Road Traffic Act that clearly stipulates the power of the Council through its Police Wardens to help control and manage traffic within the Council’s jurisdiction.

There are also by laws within the Council about vehicle road worthiness, like by-law no 14 of 2000 which states “it shall be lawful for any Municipal Warden to seize the vehicle of any driver who contravenes traffic regulations.”

“While there are continuous controversy and issues on the power of the Council, section 54B of the Road Traffic act clearly states that ‘An officer appointed under section 19A of the Municipalities Act [Cap. 126] a municipal warden may assist a police officer under section 54 or 54A’”, the PVMC stated.

The clarification from the Municipality came out in the wake of current Police mounted Zero Tolerance Operation that targets unlawfulness in the City. The Operation is jointly conducted by the PVMC.

Members of the Public have been complaining that the PVMC and Police have no legal powers to detain vehicles.

It would seem however that after 17 years since the by-law has been enacted many Port Vila citizens and drivers do not know that legal enforcers of the Town Authority can confiscate their vehicles, the PVMC said
Under the road worthiness by-law, every owner of a motor vehicle must not less than once in every period of 12 months, present to a licensed garage proprietor as approved by the PVMC for the purpose of ascertaining the vehicle is in a road worthy condition.

Therefore it is lawful for any Municipal Warden to stop any motor vehicle on the road to inspect the road worthiness certificate of the vehicles.

“Any Municipal Warden may seize any motor vehicle not having a road worthiness certificate. The vehicle shall be released upon the payment of the appropriate fine to the Port Vila Municipal Council,” parts of the by-law 14 of 2000 said.

Anyone who obstructs any Municipal Wardens or officer of the council or makes false statements to the Council is liable to a fine of not exceeding Vt. 100, 000 or imprisonment of 2 years or both.