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Economical transport for all, not lawlessness

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Although we firmly support economical transport for all, we do not support lawlessness. Families are increasingly breathing heavy metal carcinogenic auto emissions while asthma skyrockets in every urban neighbourhood. In 1997, the UNC amended the Motor Vehicles Act yet made no Regulations with respect to auto emissions. The PNM did nothing for ten years to establish regulations to control vehicle emissions. Now in the continuing absence of those regulations Minister Cadiz has announced that he is permitting older vehicles into the country.

Minister Cadiz is reported as saying: “Any vehicle over five years old is mandated to undergo a pre-registration inspection. So now that the age of the vehicle is being extended from four to six years, it means that any vehicle coming in now, will literally, as you sit down in Licensing Office, go over the pit.” Perhaps Mr Cadiz does not know that going “over the pit” (brakes, brake lights, indicator lights, shocks, etc) has nothing to do with testing the emission levels from a vehicle? He said the PP Government does not believe there would be any environmental issues arising out of the importation of older cars. Are we being asked to believe that older engines, older cars will not impact on air quality, human health and the environment? 

To compound the Minister’s high-handed announcement he indicated that they would be testing the air emissions from the vehicles. Sounds good? But what is the legal basis for these tests?...None? What are the emission standards that will be used?...None exist? Is there equipment at the Licensing Offices to test for emissions?... No? How often will these vehicles be tested and by whom?...Unknown. Would private car owners have to get their MOWT sticker at private garages and still go over the pit for emission tests? Will private garages be permitted to conduct emission tests? Minister Cadiz should know that so many questions must be answered before there is a policy change on the importation of used cars but all we are left with is a Minister’s vacuous statements. There is always consultation, but the only stake-holders consulted were the used car dealers, the primary beneficiaries. 

“Development” without good public administration is the best road to unsustainable development. Denying all public interest sectors, transportation, auto, mechanical and other engineers and scientists an opportunity to partake in our changed and new government of consultation, and public participation is something that we do not take lightly. We all have a right to safeguard our public interests and we did not vote for this high-handed exclusion. We are hearing either bias or blindness, but not truth. Without prejudice FFOS are respectfully calling on Minister Cadiz, on our Prime Minister to temporarily rescind and postpone this six-year-old car policy until there are meaningful public consultations and appropriate Regulations are approved by Parliament with infrastructure for emission testing established and operative. Unless this is done, the PP Government would compound the same arrogant and dictatorial ways of their predecessors, and this we will not permit.

Gary Aboud
Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS)


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