Motor vehicle operators rue exorbitant fees for traffic violations P5 WE CARE READY TO PARTNER WITH NEW GOV’T, SAYS STEWART
There are strong claims of unfair treatment being meted out to both public and private motor vehicle operators, who complain that they are being charged exorbitant fees whenever the Transport Authority or the police tow their vehicles to the pound. According to the motorists, wrecker fees compounded with pounding fees and traffic ticket fines are unbearable. Last week, one prominent Westmoreland businessman, not known to mince words, complained bitterly to the Jamaica Observer West that his daughter recently bore the brunt of the wicked treatment from the authorities.He said his daughter, who had just returned from abroad where she vacationed with her husband, was headed to the Inland Revenue office in Savanna-la-Mar to license her motor vehicle, which expired for four days prior, when she was stopped and ticketed by a traffic cop in the Westmoreland capital. The disgruntled businessman, who displayed the traffic ticket which attracted a fine of $10,000, rued the additional expense accrued for a wrecker fee of $15,000 to tow the vehicle to the pound, which was less than a quarter-mile away. “They (couple) were not here and when them come back the car was in garage, and the woman carry the car to license in Sav (Savanna-la-Mar) and carry her helper to doctor and they stop her. Them put the car pon wrecker and they charge her $15,000 to take the car just quarter-mile to the pound and she get a $10,000 for ticket, plus the pound fee. That nuh fair man. It nuh fair. They could use their discretion. It hurt me!,” complained the businessman. Meanwhile, a taxi operator who gave his name only as Donovan, whose vehicle was seized after parking in a no-parking area, wept openly after the vehicle was towed to the pound. “I don’t know how I am going to explain to the owner dat dem tek wey di car from mi. Me don’t have the money to pay ticket, wrecker fee and pound fee,” bemoaned the cabbie, who plies a Montego Bay, St James route. President of the National Council of Taxi Association (NCTA), Dion Chance, who is also the St James Taxi Association president, argued that once the police order that a vehicle be towed to the pound for whatever breach, instead of a ticket, they should issue the motorist with a summons. “It can’t be! You can’t be seizing a man’s vehicle, give him a ticket, and then pound the vehicle.
“That is three things, you know. Most times when them go to court, based on what it is, the judge throw it out,” argued Chance.
“Now if the vehicles are seized they should not be issued a ticket. They should be issued a summons to go to court for the judge to adjudicate. Police can’t be prosecution, executioner and the person who decide their fate. It should not be like that! When these things happen it is a double jeopardy.”
He, however, conceded that the behaviour of some cabbies leaves much to be desired.
“While I think it is exorbitant, we have to look at things from another angle. A lot of the guys do things that they are not supposed to do, like don’t go to the park (transport centre) and stuff like that. Those are seizable offences. For instance, a person is caught for whatever reason… they don’t renew their road licence, that mean they don’t have a licence and that is an offence that they (vehicles) can be seized for by the Transport Authority. The fact of the matter still remains that justice is to be seen to be served, and not only served,” Chance added.
He also expressed the view that the time has come for the Transport Authority to acquire their own wreckers “so that the fees to tow vehicles to the pound could be more affordable to the motorists”.
At the same time, the NCTA president is calling on taxi operators to be more cooperative.
“We need cooperation from them (cabbies) as well. Some of them are just willy-nilly. Dem just drive di people dem vehicle, get it seized, jump out of it, not even a phone call. Jump in another vehicle and keep going around like when bird migrating through the season. It can’t continue. Female owners feeling it from some of these men,” Chance remarked.
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