Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Ministry of Transport, Licensing Authority of Trinidad and Tobago

Published: Wednesday, January 18, 2017
“I am happy to know we are keeping people baffled. Gone are the days when the Transport Commission was operating “vai-que-vai”. We are now standing up to be the best division of the government.”

Transport Commissioner Wayne Richards said there will be no rush to change, recall or withdraw the new driver’s permit after reports surfaced yesterday that a humming bird used in the design was not indigenous to T&T.

Richards said the hologram on the recently released driving permit which resembles a humming bird was not an error but a deliberate design. “We are merely creating an illusion to baffle people who are thinking it is one thing but it is really something else,” Richards said in response to criticism on social media that the Ministry of Works and Transport would have erred in its design.

“We know what we are doing. We did not make an error,” he said. Last Friday, Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan launched the new driving permit which is embedded with enhanced security features aimed at improving service delivery and procedures at the licensing division and preventing duplication.

However, social media users criticized the Ministry’s use of what appears to be an American species of humming bird rather than one which is indigenous to T&T on a national document. Sinanan said he was aware of social media posts and had sought clarification from the Licensing Office. He referred queries to Richards. Richards said that in the past driving permits were easily tampered with and forged, with reports of it being done in as far as Grenada.

He said it was agreed that special security effects were required to make the driver’s permits less vulnerable to duplication and this specific design was conceptualised. “We cannot divulge some of these security measures. What I can tell you is that people are seeing and determining what they want to see. What this tells us is that we have achieved our security goal and it strengthens the permit.”

With respect to the holographic bird, he said, “there is something that appears to be a bird. It isn’t that we identified a particular bird or species. It has special security effects.” Similarly, he said the bar code on the permit does not convey personal information, but something else when scanned.

“Outside of what would have been shown at the launch, there are many other special security mechanisms, for instance when you move it in a certain direction it changes colour. “I am happy to know we are keeping people baffled. Gone are the days when the Transport Commission was operating “vai-que-vai”. We are now standing up to be the best division of the government.”

We are happy to hear that the Licensing Authority has found and utilized modern technology that would make tampering and forging T&T Driving Permits an illicit activity of the past. However, the Transport Commissioner should not be too quick to pat himself self on the back and say that the days of "vai qui vai" are gone, because they are not.

But to simply counter by saying that the Authority is still operating in a “vai-que-vai” manner would be to misrepresent, understate and trivialize the scampishness and outright fraudulent activity that takes place within that Wrightson Road complex on a daily basis.

The Licensing Authority of Trinidad and Tobago can easily and justifiably be described as the second most corrupt agency of the Government, the first being the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service, but that's another topic all by itself.

What baffles us here is the Authority's failure to implement similar technology to detect the crookedness of Licensing Officers and eradicate the entrenched bribe taking culture of the Division. But then, maybe we should not be baffled by the obvious.

The entire country knows that stolen vehicles often find themselves back on the road with new registration plates after being re-registered and re-licensed using falsified documents with forged signatures. Owners who have lost their vehicles through fraudulent conversion, larceny and banditry get little if any assistance from the hierarchy of the Authority to track down their misappropriated or stolen vehicles.

Like police officers, licensing officers from the lowest to the highest are their brothers' keepers; they protect and cover-up one another's underhandedness and dishonesty.

So as we say, Mr. Richards should not be too quick to pat himself on the back.

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