“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:
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.
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.
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.
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..