Some taxi operators to get relief from vehicle seizures soon – TA Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

Some taxi operators who have been faced with the seizure of their vehicles due to them operating contrary to their road licences could soon benefit from relief from pending regulations under the new Road Traffic Act.

This assurance came from the Transport Authority’s (TA) Managing Director, Ralston Smith, during a virtual meeting with the Transport Operators Development Sustainable Services (TODSS) last week.

Smith acknowledged some challenges that are being faced by the authority in issuing licences at present.

He said the traffic police are aware of the issues and have been asked to accept taxi operators’ receipts as proof of them completing the renewal process.

However, the operators insisted at the meeting that their vehicles are still being seized by the police.Smith pointed out that the seizures may be due to other reasons like lack of insurance or mechanical defects. 

He emphasised that seizing taxi operators’ tools of trade should not be the primary sanction. 

“I think we should tighten up the legislative loops to allow for punishment without taking away your property,” Smith proposed.

He also asserted that in addition to the legislative loop, “the prosecutorial loop and the punishment loop” should also be tightened “in terms of how the court administers justice” locally.

“So, if it is that you were summoned or ticketed for a certain offence and you didn’t pay the ticket, the extent to which it affects some other things (should be to the level) that you can’t avoid doing that, because one of the reasons now why the seizure is seen to be such a deterrent is because without the vehicle, the operator can’t do anything, and therefore, he runs to the court to sort him thing out, and him go and pay the fine,” Smith explained. 

“If we get to the stage where the summons being issued or the ticket being issued is of such that it has certain consequence on your driver’s licence, then what I think would happen when you stop a motorist operating illegally without a road licence, and the punishment is consequential against his driver’s licence, then I may be less inclined to take an illegal taxi from… (an individual) and go run it as ‘robot’ because I want my driver’s licence,” Smith argued. 

The pending regulations under the new Road Traffic Act stipulate that some legitimate taxi operators should not see their vehicles being seized for operating contrary to their licence under specific circumstances.

Instead, according to Smith, taxi operators will receive tickets or summons.

“To say point blank you won’t seize a red plate (motor vehicle) is not exactly what I am saying,” Smith cautioned. 

“… A red plate (vehicle) may be unlicensed and uninsured, and there may be reasons for seizing it. But for the offence for operating contrary, the reform is coming where you don’t seize those vehicles, but you issue a ticket or a summons,” Smith stated.