Home / View Point / Letters to the Editor / Sinanan admits ‘some depletion’ in stock of inspection books but calls criticism ‘bizarre, unfortunate and misplaced’

Sinanan admits ‘some depletion’ in stock of inspection books but calls criticism ‘bizarre, unfortunate and misplaced’

“The depletion of inspection books yesterday is not the cause [of the current licensing confusion]. The incontrovertible fact is that citizens have failed to utilise the five month period granted to them to become compliant with the law.

“[…] The Ministry acknowledges that the rush to have vehicles inspected did cause some depletion of the stock of inspection books yesterday but this was immediately addressed by the Government Printery whose staff worked overtime to ensure that the stocks are replenished and that citizens get their vehicles inspected.”

The following is a statement by Minister of Works and Transport Rohan Sinanan, which responds to criticism of his ministry after the shortage of inspection certificates caused chaos for motorists at inspection centres nationwide:

Photo: Minister of Works and Transport Rohan Sinanan.
(Copyright News.Gov.TT)

The Express editorial of 3 January 2018 under the captioned “Motor Inspection Shame” wherein blame was ascribed to me as Minister of Works and Transport for overwhelming crowds at Licensing Offices and private inspection centres for vehicle inspection is bizarre, unfortunate and misplaced.

The issue with respect to inspection of motor vehicles in Trinidad and Tobago must be placed into proper perspective. Section 27 of the Motor Vehicles and Road Traffic Regulations requires the registered owner of a motor vehicle to submit his motor vehicle for inspection at stipulated timelines.

This has been the law in Trinidad and Tobago for 20 years and owners of motor vehicles ought to have known that this forms part of their responsibility of motor vehicle ownership.

Unfortunately, as in many aspects of life in Trinidad and Tobago, laws are complied more in the breach than in the observance. This reality often times results in citizens resisting the implementation of law and order—sometimes at their own personal detriment.

We all as citizens are required to accept a level of personal responsibility for our own affairs and make every effort to comply with the laws of our country if we desire a better nation. I can only hope that the Express shares this view.

The Express editorial has missed a golden opportunity for sober reflection on what really in fact contributed to crowds overwhelming our Licensing Offices and private inspection centres.

Photo: A driver experiences road rage.

The moratorium granted by the government, which expired on 31 December 2018 is not the cause. The depletion of inspection books yesterday is not the cause.

The incontrovertible fact is that citizens have failed to utilise the five month period granted to them to become compliant with the law.

They have waited on the last week of the five month period to crowd inspection centres and placed an obvious burden on resources which resulted in some cases in a depletion of inspection books but not inspection stickers as was erroneously asserted in the editorial and in many quarters.

Had citizens embraced the full five month moratorium period, inspection centres would not have faced overcrowding as is being experienced at this time and persons would have had ample time to inspect their vehicles without this inconvenience.

I invite the Express to examine the Ministry’s social media platform over the last five months and it may not be surprised to learn of the many instances in which the Ministry continuously reminded the country to make use of the moratorium and have their vehicles inspected.

Additionally, in order to reduce the overcrowding of the licensing offices, I exercised my ministerial powers to amend the regulations to allow goods vehicles up to a maximum of 3200kg to added benefit of having this category of vehicles inspected at private inspection centres.

Photo: (From left) Stephen Williams (then Acting Police Commissioner), Major General (Ret’d) Edmund Dillon (then Minister of National Security), Rohan Sinanan (Minister of Works and Transport), Wayne Richards (then Transport Commissioner) and Maxie Cuffie (then Minister of Public Administration and Communications).
(Copyright News.gov.tt)

An additional 46 such centres were approved by my Ministry to carry out inspection. Previously, all goods vehicles had to be inspected by the Licensing Division. This singular act benefited over 10,000 vehicle owners granting them the added facility to inspect their vehicles at private centres around the country.

Notwithstanding this, inspection centres and licensing offices remained virtually empty of persons requesting inspection services until the final week of December 2018.

Again, I wish to reiterate that the situation which currently exists at our licensing offices and private inspection centres is not the fault of the Ministry. It points to the laissez faire attire by many of us as citizens when it comes to taking personal responsibility to do what is right outside of robust enforcement of law and order.

The Ministry acknowledges that the rush to have vehicles inspected did cause some depletion of the stock of inspection books yesterday but this was immediately addressed by the Government Printery whose staff worked overtime to ensure that the stocks are replenished and that citizens get their vehicles inspected.

I wish to reiterate that the requirement to inspect motor vehicles to ensure roadworthiness did not start with the granting of a moratorium in July of 2018. The law has been with for over 20 years and the Express would have better served their readers by reminding them of this fact.

Photo: A journalist types her story.

It is my sincere hope that as a nation, we all learn from this experience and recognise that owning a vehicle is a serious responsibility that must not take the threat of law enforcement doing their jobs to force us to do what is right. This is a matter of personal safety and not the safety of others on our roads.

I also wish to categorically state that as minister, I am not the enforcer of the law. I am a policy maker and a legislator. Enforcement of the law is the sole domain of law enforcement officers.

Reminding citizens to comply with the law to avoid sanctions cannot be interpreted as a threat and I regard this assertion by the editorial as unjustified and baseless.

As minister with responsibility for Transport, I will continue to strive everyday to work towards a better nation for all our citizens and I urge citizens to take personal responsibility in the conduct of their personal affairs by compliance with our laws. I also invite the Express to join me in this noble call to the citizens..

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52 comments

  1. This was Express editorial that so offended Minister Sinanan: Opinion 03/01/2019
    Daily Express
    THE NATIONAL NEWSPAPER FOR TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
    Motor inspection shame
    It is sheer audacity for Works Minister Rohan Sinanan to have been threatening the public with a $5,000 fine for not having inspection stickers on their motor vehicles when his own ministry has completely failed to ensure the availability of stickers.
    And now, with the minister’s threat sending people rushing to comply with the regulations, the system has collapsed even further with garages not having sticker books and need to order more.
    Minister Sinanan must explain how this disastrous situation has occurred given that his ministry had an extra five months to get things in order when it decided to grant motorists a fivemonth moratorium for getting their house in order. Even back then, it was clear that the ministry was not ready.
    Owners of heavy vehicles were being turned away on the grounds that stickers were not ready. Then, the Licensing authority settled for collecting fees in exchange for inspection certificates without stickers, saying motorists would not be fined if they could produce certificates when stopped for not having a sticker. That was the first alarm bell signalling the ministry’s lack of preparedness.
    It does not need a rocket scientist to figure out how many stickers and certificate forms are required to meet the public demand given that the registration data is collected by the Licensing department.
    This ought to have been a straight case of supply and demand, unless the process is not as straight as it ought to be. Minister Sinanan must explain how this problem has come about and why it wasn’t resolved. It is difficult to accept that he was unaware of the deficiencies at the Licensing department when he was warning the public three days ago that there would be no further extension of time while criticising the public’s propensity for procrastination.
    A few months ago, this newspaper urged the public not to delay in complying with the vehicle inspection regulations. In doing so, we could not have imagined that the Government itself, which was reading the riot act to the public, was so disorganised as to be unable to deliver, even with extended time.
    As always, it is the most vulnerable who pay the price for Government inefficiency. Yesterday, on the first working day of the year, commuters in South Trinidad turned up to find no transport on the South Route Bus Service.
    In apologising and explaining the problem, the Public Transport Service Corporation (PTSC) attempted to pin the blame on union officials who it claimed had ‘advised drivers not to operate buses without inspection certificates being displayed on the bus’, even as it admitted that not all southern buses had copies of the certificates on display.
    Logic would suggest that it is the responsibility of the PTSC management and not the union to ensure that buses comply with the new regulations. It is incredible that the PTSC, above all, should not have ensured that the certificates were placed on the buses well in advance of the deadline.
    Given the bungling of the seabridge over which he presided, one would have expected Minister Sinanan to have at least ensured that he got this one right.

  2. But also how much does it cost some people to get them to spend $300 at inspection?

  3. Exactly is not a trini or pnm thing sorry folks.

  4. Lasana your reply about Christmas eve, Valentines and Mothers day are great examples!

  5. Thanks Wired868 for the opportunity to ‘have our say’ Some excellent suggestions come out of this group!

  6. It prpbably goes into the consolidated fund like everything else ie not earmarked for any specific use so has no direct impact in a defined area, same as the health surcharge (if that’s still around)….

    • Health surcharge is still around and i paid plenty in my time but was told by a staunch PNMite that that money eh enough to fund the ” freeness” we get from the gov’t.

    • In the case of vehicle taxes/charges/fines why wouldn’t it be allocated to specific purpose? At least until the roads are safe and fit for purpose. It would create some local jobs.
      If tourism is really a goal, basic infrastructure is important.

    • Not knowing the figures involved, ie cost of healthcare or revenue gained from surcharge, it’s hard to say whether that is true or not. The point is that having the surcharge or the licence fee go into the pot with all other revenue deprives their specific areas of focus, ie transport and health, of a dedicated source of income which would provide some leeway when competing for funding with other economic sectors when budget time comes around ….

  7. Where does the money from inspections go? Is it tagged to improvements for road users?

  8. My husband and i started since the beginning of October to try to get our car inspected in Carnbee Tobago as it was the only outlet we knew of. . We literally had to go every week for six weeks as each time they claimed they didn’t have forms or stickers and to return the following week. We finally got ours done the third week in November much to our relief as we knew the madness would take place come December. Have no reason to doubt they ran out of forms again.

  9. Reminds me of the catastrophic introduction of the machine readable passports sometime ago….. a total fubar….

  10. I am among thousands of vehicle owners whose vehicles were manufactured in 2014 and therefore require inspection on January 2nd 2019. I could not get my vehicle inspected because of shortage of inspection forms. I am not delinquent, I simply wanted to have my vehicle inspected at the precise time when it is required.

  11. This stuff is laughable! There are no excuses. None!! When I see these mess ups I’m convinced that they are deliberate because this is simple stuff to manage and I know for sure that there are many very competent public servants. Hire competent people and leave them alone to do their work!!!!

  12. Scotty Ranking

    While the Minister is correct in his assertions about the general public and their lackadaisical attitudes concerning the five-month moratorium, hiscsyaements cannot detract from the fact that his Ministry is woefully at fault for certificate books and stickers running out! Not low, mind you, but out!
    If this happens from less than a full week of inspection activity, clearly the persons in charge of these stocks were – pun intended – asleep at the wheel. And you should own up to that fact. My mother did an inspection a full 13 months ago (November 2017!) and still cannot get her sticker for this car that I also drive. Which is why the Minister’s words on this always ring very hollow for me.
    When will we get persons in governance who willingly accept responsibility for mishaps under their purview, look to remedy them forthwith and then look to admonish the public for their failings? Would be a nice touch…

  13. Lasana, you missed a good opportunity here to blame the Union and bus drivers!

    • While most may find that the union was being obstructionist here, they were well within their rights to seek their memebrrs’ interests. Did no one at PTSC have the foresight to head this off by issuing an internal letter clearly indicating which buses had been inspected and certified but lacked stickers? Sigh. Only reactionary and backward attitudes while the rest of the world undergoes progress.

    • Damian R. Scott yo got it! Read the article below..sigh

    • Recall seeing this, but can’t remember seeing a response. If it is true, do we blame the drivers for wanting to be assured of their safety and that of their passengers through verification of independent inspection?

      https://m.facebook.com › CCNTV6 › posts
      Devant Maharaj – No Tyres For PTSC Buses! PTSC sources …

  14. There will always be idiotic procrastinators especially in a lackadaisical ‘We-like-it-so’ society as ours. Therefore with that understanding, Mr. Man, you should have been prepared for the highly potential rush and consequent overburdening of your inventory. When ‘push come to shove’, you messed up…

    • This is an idiotic sentiment: You want a system to predict procrastination? Show me an efficient operation that does successfully.

      I dare you.

    • Kwesi, almost every shopping centre around the country on the eve of Christmas Day, Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day… just as one example.

    • Smh. I’m sure I used the word “efficient”

      I’m not even going to try to explain supply chain management principles in a JIT production system.

    • Kwesi Prescod oh my my…… supply chain in a JIT production system? Eh? Really? Sometimes I think as a nation we are better at explaining away BS. This shouldn’t happen! We know we wanted to put this in place! We know how many cars are on the road! Allow the people with the expertise to design and develop the process and take their advice. In the end you still get the political credit.

    • Excellent point, Kenneth! With the deadline fast approaching and knowing how many Trinis tend to wait until the last moment, they should have been prepared. It’s simple. They could have even done a simple assessment and forecasted/guessed how many vehicles in T&T needed inspection documentation.

    • Kwesi Prescod Tsk, tsk, tsk… you seem confused. I suggest you reread what I wrote.

    • Brian Harry: Consider they produced 20,000 stickers in December…nd by December 31st only 5,000 stickers were used. On January 2, 15,000 cars show up, pleas advise:
      – can they use the 15,000 stickers unused in December?
      – if no, what should be done with those stickers?

      Take your time and proffer ad answer.

      Further, is it the Minister who orders the number of tickets and forms? Or is it the PS? Or is it the appropriate public servant professional who designs and develops systems?

      My point? This is not even a political issue. This is an issue of culture. But the political shills will come out to argue politics anyway, because tthem every problem is a nail waiting for their hard heads to hammer.

    • Kwesi Prescod you missing on many fronts? That the stickers are time sensitive is ….. (choose your adjective) because that’s an easy fix – this is done daily across the world. This process should have been properly project managed. Our people didn’t begin to procrastinate yesterday. An important part of managing anything is to understand your customers. I won’t debate this further but this behavior and the outcome should not have been a surprise

    • If im understanding this properly we are actually saying that systems and processes in trinidad should be governed on the premise that trinidadians are “procrastinators” and “last minute”…then why speak of change?.. why seek first world status?…why demand better if this is our culture?…and i dare say if another 5 month extension is given and 100 K extra certificates printed we would encounter the same problem as there would be another 100 K drivers needing stickers who for months/years would have been comfortably breaking the law

    • Christopher, the thing is if the gov’t wants change they should lead the way. When they are found to have been as unprepared as the people, they lose the moral authority to lead.
      Sinanan and company should strive to lead by example otherwise their words are hollow.

    • Again Lasana, this is not even a political issue. Sinanan would not be ordering the number of books or stickers published or issued.

      If you want to complain (and I think it is specious to complain) look at the public servants – from the Transport Commissioner down who is responsible for such operational matters. Or you should blame the garages for not ordering more stickers than they would require so as to put themselves in a negative cash flow position just to facilitate bad habits of Trinis. If that make sense to you.

      In any case, they STILL aren’t to blame. The public’s indiscipline and lawlessness is.

      Why are we defending and normalizing ill discipline?

    • Lasana Liburd totally agree with you bro. Similarly, there is an equal and important discourse to have on the responsibilty of each citizen to initiate positive change so have have the moral ground to demand that change from leadership. I just think that argument was one sided.

    • Im also interested in how was authorities to calculate the number of law breakers we actually have in trinidad in terms of not having road worthy vehicles…because im absolutely certain that everyone’s vehicle inspection did not expire in december…and mind you there are thousands more who are NOT going to inspect their vehicles…they are quite happy to take a chance thinking they will never be caught eh

    • Kwesi Prescod i guess they are watching from the perspective that the minister has ultimate responsibility given our system of governance but if we do deep introspection we would see your point is absolutely valid…there are public servants at the lower levels that for one reason or the other, sabotage, laziness, incompetence etc make the system unworkable not realizing that they are only frustrating other persons like themselves by their actions/inaction but this is a discourse that is rarely highlighted

    • Kwesi I’ve said enough times that garage owners cannot order inspection books in anticipation of how many drivers they think will come. They get books daily based on what Licensing Office thinks to be a fair figure for a day’s work for them based on the capability of their garage and whatever other calculations.
      I’m just going to assume you are speaking but not listening and stop bothering if you’re so impervious to facts.
      And yes Chris I meant that the Minister has ultimate responsibility and has been pontificating about this project for some time. So he has to take responsibility when it goes wrong too.

    • What amazes me is the lack of recognition – as you type- of the incoherence of what you’re saying.

      On one hand you say that the garages don’t order the books/ stickers but on the other hand you say it’s the Ministry that issues them based on “whatever calaculations”. That lazy “whatever else” seems to be a deliberate distancing from the fact that it would be based on market throughputs. As throughputs were low there is NO party who would be able to estimate the supply of the books to account for the ridiculous spike caused by a last minute rush.

      What is also interesting is how far you go to complain without acknowledging that the MAJOR source of the failure is the delinquency of the drivers who did not take advantage of the five month window given to them.

      Finally this is NOT a project. It’s not even an initiative. It’s an obligation of drivers that they have not been meeting – resulting in a backlog which inconveniences the delinquent.
      There is no one who is responsible for consequence of delinquincy other than the delinquent.

    • Kwesi again you’re unable to quote me correctly. I didn’t read your whole comment because I stopped at the part where you claim I said the garages didn’t order the books…
      Let me try again. The garages are only allowed a certain number of books per day.
      However MOWT didn’t start printing any books for 2019 until January 3 or 4. By then there was chaos.
      I really can’t read your lengthy stuff when it starts off incorrectly.

    • And if people won’t delinquent, then all the books and stickers would have been used in 2018.

      Books for 2019 should not have been available before January 2.

      The entire debacle is because of The population’s delinquency. If you want to validate that behavior start your articles with that caveat so that the reader is forewarned.

    • Wrong again. It is the 2018 books that they used to license people on January 2. So when people were inspected then, some garages wrote the inspection date as 31 December and gave them two years from that day.
      If they still had 2018 books, people would have continued to accept that arrangement. But there were no more.
      Keep digging.

    • So you’re encouraging the breaking of law for convenience.

      Cool. Got it. You win. You’re right. 🙄

  15. So because ppl came late to get their certificates, it’s their fault you were ill prepared? You had an idea how many vehicles needed to be inspected, did you not? The Govt Printery is a stones throw away from the compound so miss me with that shit

  16. Mr Sinanan, Never miss an opportunity to take something personally, get pissed off and pay out on those you will expect to vote for you ey! Making sure enough books are available for the number of vehicles to be inspected isn’t rocket science either. Start printing early for next time.