Now that a $5,000 fine looms over their heads, drivers tardy in getting their inspections done during the five-month moratorium given last year, have been forced to queue up for hours every day in the scorching sun in order to get them done. Many social commentators said this is the price these motorists must now pay for their delinquency and failure to capitalise on the grace period.
However, they aren’t the only ones “paying the price.”
Private garage owners are also now being forced to line up at the licensing office for hours in order to replenish their supply of stickers and certificates.
Speaking with Guardian Media at the Licensing head office in Caroni yesterday were representatives of various garages from around the country who were waiting to collect stickers and certificates.
They, just like many motorists, have been waiting on the compound since the early hours of the morning for the doors to open.
They indicated that the rush was depleting their supplies rapidly, forcing them to go through the hassle more than once. Some say they had been to the office every day of this week to get the documents.
They noted the process was extremely tedious. Asked how long a book usually lasts, one representative, who only wanted to identify himself as Nicholas, said, “It depends on how much you take. Each book is 50 pages and depending on how now is the prime time it finishing.”
He said they were not given a consistent number of books, however the most they received at a time was four books (200 stickers), which he said, would finish after only two days.
They are further inconvenienced, as they say the staff appears to be spread thin to deal with the crowd, leaving them fighting for their attention.
“Yesterday one came for books and it was right there on top of the table you know but it had nobody to actually give it to him. You know how long we sit down there just watching it, and it’s not like we could just take it up and go you know?” another garage owner said.
Due to the private garages running out of these documents, motorists were given the checklist used by inspectors as proof of having their insurance done.
One motorist who received this, a businessman from Aranguez, who wished to remain anonymous, told Guardian Media in a telephone interview that he was now concerned that this may not be accepted as valid proof of inspection and he would still be liable to pay the $5,000 fine despite spending hours in line to get his vehicles inspected.
“The whole purpose of going there was to get a sticker and a certificate right?” he said.
Asked if the use of the checklist by the private garages in lieu of certificates would could be used as proof of inspection, Transport Commissioner Basdeo Gosine said, “Legally speaking, that is not an inspection certificate that can make you say you complying with the law…it is a clear indication that the person has gone for an inspection and has completed a significant part so no license officer or police officer—generally speaking—would really prefer a charge against this person.”
This, he said, was a perfect example of what he meant when he said that they would not charge drivers as long as they made an effort to get it done. He noted, however, that once stickers and certificates became available, they must be acquired.
Despite this being so, the Aranguez businessman said it a further inconvenience to now have to return at a later date to get the proper documentation and questioned why better measures were not put in place by the ministry.
Gosine explained to Guardian Media that there was never really any shortage of stickers. He said theoretically, private garages could purchase any amount of stickers and books, but understandably, they did not because, at the time, there was not a demand warranting them to have so many in stock.
He admitted that given the current situation and demand for stickers, they had limited the number of stickers which could be purchased at a time per garage to ensure there was an even distribution throughout the country. This was especially important he said because they only possessed one machine to print stickers and were constrained by the quantity it could produce at a time.
During the rush earlier this week, there were several complaints by private inspection garages that there was a shortage of inspection stickers. However, Minister of Works and Transport Rohan Sinanan denied this in a release on Thursday, stating that there were stickers available.