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Licensing officers terrorising Tobagonians

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Licensing officers terrorising Tobagonians

Licensing officers terrorising Tobagonians

Chief Secretary of the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Farley Augustine has taken serious issue with the Licensing Division and has accused the officers of “terrorising” the people of Tobago through tickets and road exercises.

His comments follow hundreds of tickets being issued to motorists on the island over the weekend and scores of complaints about the exercises.

At a media conference at the Shaw Park Cultural Complex yesterday, Augustine said while he supports that the Division has a responsibility to ensure that everyone abides by the regulations and the laws as set out for the use of motor vehicles on the roadway, “However, there are some serious challenges that I must echo on behalf of the people of Tobago and certainly on behalf of this Tobago Government. In the first instance, it should never be that we have hoards of officers coming up from Trinidad to terrorise Tobagonians that should never be the case, that should not be how they operate.”

He said there must be a measure of respect in how they do their duties

Augustine said the THA has been observing and getting reports that drivers have been pulled aside for what they believe is an infraction and had them waiting in some instances over 30 minutes without instructions.

He said there are instances where the officers can use discretion as there are discretionary powers assigned to the officers.

“That seems to not exist in Tobago’s case, it seems there is some kind of mad rush to break some record in terms of the amount of monies collected through these tickets.”

He claimed that this type of activity does not occur all year but rather during Tobago’s peak season.

But it is not the Chief Secretary alone raising the issue, the Tobago Business Chamber (TBC) has also called out what is labelled as the “oppressive” actions of Licensing officers in Tobago.

In a release, Chamber head, Martin George, said, “The TBC wishes to call out what is beginning to appear as oppressive and targeted punitive action aimed at the motoring public in Tobago over the last few days with hordes of Licensing Officers descending upon the island and handing out fines, tickets and demerit points for some of the most trivial and innocuous infractions. When you have persons complaining of being ticketed and fined and given demerit points for having their Licence plate on fibreglass or for having a door window glass which can only go down halfway; one has to wonder what’s the real objective here.”

In response to the Chief Secretary Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan said, “I would be surprised if the Chief Secretary said that, however, as Minister, I do not direct the Transport Commissioner or any of the law enforcement agencies under us where and how to perform their duties. I am sure if that is a concern of the Chief Secretary the Commissioner of Transport will respond in an appropriate manner to him to give him the assurance that terrorising drivers is not what their intention is.”

Speaking with reporters in Tobago over the weekend Transport Commissioner Clive Clarke said his officers were there to save lives and to promote safety.

He said they were taking the opportunity to educate the public by providing certain literature they thought was of value.

He explained that members of the public could familiarise themselves with the new fixed-penalty system.

“We are encountering a number of persons above the demerit points threshold. We have situations where persons are driving with 12 – we met one with 27.”

The Transport Commissioner also said they had seen a large number of defective vehicles and drivers without valid insurance or permits.

He said in one day 190 tickets were issued.

By: Chester Sambrano

Guardian Newspaper Trinidad and Tobago

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