Calls for Shane Ross to ‘get his act together’ to regulate rickshaws

Minister for Transport criticised for favouring the ‘laziest option’of an outright ban of rickshaws

TD Imelda Munster and Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross, clash in the Dail over rickshaw regulation in Dublin. Video: Oireachtas TV

 

Minister for Transport Shane Ross has hit out at calls for him to “get your act together” and bring in regulations for the operation of rickshaws.

Sinn Féin transport spokeswoman Imelda Munster made the call as she claimed that reports carried out on the issue “contain every single excuse under the sun” for not taking action.

But Mr Ross said once consultations with the Attorney General’s office were completed he expected to be able to announce a decision by the Dáil summer recess on whether to ban or to regulate rickshaws.

He said he was “putting the rickshaw industry on notice that I will be deciding very shortly as regards the introduction either of an outright prohibition or a new regulatory framework for rickshaws.”

His preferred approach “is an outright ban” and a detailed public consultation had shown that a majority of people wanted rickshaws banned.

But a ban “is not entirely without obstacles,” Mr Ross said.

Ms Munster said the Minister was favouring “the laziest option available”, to ban rickshaws, rather than “the most suitable in terms of law or policy”.

She also claimed Mr Ross was talking about the issue “as if this is an impossible task suggesting that we could never regulate the industry”.

She introduced an amendment to road traffic legislation in December 2016 to regulate rickshaws, which was accepted by the Dáil. Rickshaws currently operate in a regulation vacuum but she claimed that “two years later the Minister has done nothing”.

The Louth TD said rickshaws are regulated in cities such as Vietnam, Copenhagen, Paris, Berlin, Frankfurt, Hanover, Hamburg, Budapest, Krakow, Milan, Rome, St Petersburg, Barcelona, Valencia and London.

“Those cities are able to do something as simple as regulate rickshaws. Two years later, Minister, you need to get your act together and do it.”

But Mr Ross described her comments as “ridiculous”. He said he had accepted her amendment but “I found the legal problems were too great, and that it has to be addressed in a different way”.

Other EU countries have “stronger powers and functions at municipal level than is the case in Ireland” and the Government had to look at how effective the enforcement powers of local government are.

Ms Munster reiterated her view that rickshaws were a novel way of travelling that tourists enjoyed. “They are another transport option for many people and the service provides around 1,000 jobs.” She added that while there were problems with rickshaws, they were “nothing that can’t be solved through regulation”.

When the Sinn Féin TD asked if the Minister was saying that sufficient expertise was not available between the National Transport Authority (NTA) and his department to regulate “something as simple as a rickshaw”, Mr Ross said she “really does talk in exaggerated broad brushes”.

He said they had been through the issue with the Oireachtas transport committee. The NTA had carried out an extremely thorough survey of the issue in the last year “and has come up with some fairly startling conclusions, one of which is that the majority of the people want to ban rickshaws”.

Mr Ross said “we now have legal complexities which will be resolved”.