Transport Commissioner – More staff, better processes should fix licensing stress

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Transport Commissioner Clive Clarke. File photo

TRANSPORT Commissioner Clive Clarke said challenges surrounding record validation have contributed to the long lines and hours of waiting that thousands of frustrated drivers experience while trying to have their vehicles inspected.

However, he said, the licensing office is increasing staff and streamlining processes in order to reduce the bottlenecks causing the long lines.

Speaking at the Ministry of Works’ head office in Port of Spain on Thursday, Clarke said the bottlenecks were caused by errors made in the previous manual process for inspections, and missing data from the digitisation process carried out 18 years ago.

“A person may have keyed in the wrong information in registering a vehicle on the computer. So (if) a chassis number had C105, you would find an officer putting Ci05,” he explained.

“Then we have missing data from our digitisation process whereby the division did not capture two key elements for the inspection that determines whether you go to an inspection station or to the licensing division, except for taxis and T-vehicles, etc.”

He said that could create a scenario where someone would have to visit the licensing office directly to have the issue rectified. He said because there was such a high volume of people in this situation, the process could take up to three weeks and even longer.

“We are very much aware of the situation,” he said. “We have ramped up staff in the licensing division who will be working that extra time with additional resources to address that issue.”

He added that the licensing office introduced a system where inspectors can send a picture of the vehicle with the number plate, a picture of the chassis number and a contact for the individual to the licensing office via e-mail, without that person having to physically go to the licensing office.

“We are already seeing a decrease in the number of vehicles at the licensing office because of that process,” Clarke said.

He added that the licensing office will go back to an appointment system for vehicles 6,000 kg and up. He said it is also working on establishing a site in eastern TT for appointments for those vehicles.

From next Tuesday, the San Fernando and Caroni offices will not do transfers of ownership. People looking to transfer ownership would have to go to the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva and the Larry Gomes Stadium in Arima.

This would go on for six weeks in the first instance. Transfers can still be done at the Wrightson Road office.

“Because of the technology we now have, we can decentralise the licensing office, thereby easing the crowds in licensing and providing the opportunity to free up more days for inspection.” Clarke said.

He said because the new digital system forces people to physically bring their vehicles for inspection, the licensing office is now able to catch several issues, including duplicated chassis numbers, which suggests theft.

For weeks drivers have been complaining of long lines and several hours of waiting at licensing offices and inspection garages as they try to get their vehicles inspected to avoid the $1,000 fine and imposition of nine demerit points.

Mayaro MP Rushton Paray has blamed government incompetence for these long lines.

“The insanity of motorists having to join a vehicle waiting line from 5 pm the previous day for a routine licensing service is another indication of the incompetence of the Rowley regime,” he said.