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Transport Minister Devant Maharaj yesterday denied the Licensing Office was cracking down on vehicles in need of inspection and imposing hefty fines on motorists. Instead, he explained, what has been happening over the past two days were routine traffic exercises. He dismissed as “political mischief” reports that motorists were being pulled aside if their vehicles did not have the required inspection stickers and issued with $5,000 fixed penalty tickets. “When was the last crackdown for inspection? I stopped at a police roadblock on Wrightson Road and asked what was the purpose. I was told it was a routine,” Maharaj said.
He added: “There is no drive to crack down. However, there is a law regarding that and the fine is $5,000. Over the last decade there has been no such crackdown and all of a sudden this happens. I do not know if it is a kind of political mischief.” There were long lines, hours of waiting and pandemonium at the Licensing Office, Port-of-Spain, yesterday as hundreds of motorists tried to arrange for inspection of their vehicles. That followed widespread reports on Wednesday, including messages circulated widely on social networks, about nationwide police exercises and roadblocks to net uninspected vehicles. It was reported that vehicles more than five years old were needed to be inspected or motorists could be fined $5,000.
But Maharaj told the T&T Guardian there was no way to enforce the inspection requirement at that time because the sticker machine was in disrepair and other aspects of the system had been neglected over the past decade. According to an advisory from the Ministry of Transport, while it is the law vehicles must be inspected by the Licensing Division in accordance with the Motor Vehicle and Road Traffic Act 48.50 Part V, S 27, there is no such drive against motorists at present. At yesterday’s daily police briefing, Assistant Superintendent Joanne Archie said the inspection of vehicles was not carried out by the T&T Police Service. “This has to do with Licensing Department. We do not inspect vehicles,” she added.
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