More powers for ITA

By Balford Henry Observer senior reporter henryb@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, June 06, 2014    

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DR. Morais Guy, Minister without portfolio in the ministry of transport, works and housing, says increased powers are to be granted to the Island Traffic Authority (ITA) this year.

Dr Guy said while the ITA is often perceived to be plagued with corruption, the authority is in the midst of a major transformation and modernisation process.

He said several steps have been taken to give new life to the authority's operations, and to aggressively deal with the negative image.

"It makes no sense to skirt around the problem; rather we have opted to deal with them decisively and comprehensively," he said.

He explained that over fiscal year 2013/14, $38 million was spent to upgrade the infrastructure at five depots across the island - depots in Montego Bay, St James; Spanish Town Road; and Swallowfield in the Corporate Area.

He said that, as part of the upgrading programme, motorists in St Ann now have a new depot building in St. Ann's Bay.

This year's renovation works will be on in earnest at depots in Spanish Town, Port Antonio, Savanna-la-Mar and Port Maria. This is being complemented by the training of new and existing certifying officers, as part of a standardised training programme and in collaboration with the HEART Trust/NTA, he pointed out.

With regard to upholding the integrity of its operations, equipment and processes, Dr. Guy said that a vehicle inspection enhancement initiative has been put in place.

"Already, commercial intrusion alarm systems, including armed response services, have been installed at four examination depots. Additionally, it is planned that Close Circuit Televisions (CCTV) are to be installed at those depots. These two systems will help to eliminate a number of irregularities," he promised.

He said that there are also plans to automate the testing of applicants for driver's licences this year, and do away with the written aspect of the driving test.

"What this means, is that when an applicant goes for his/her licence, he/she will no longer use the traditional pencil and paper, but will input answers on a computer. Testing of the programme will take place at one of our corporate area depots, with plans to expand it across the island," he explained.

Dr Guy added that, in an effort to address documentation challenges at the depots, the Ministry's Information Management Department is currently partnering with eGov Services Limited on an Automated Motor Vehicle System (AMVS).

"This will allow for the automation of vehicle fitness information. The pilot project will initially be tested at four depots- Spanish Town, Harbour View, Swallowfield and Spanish Town Road. Upon successfully completing the pilot, there will be a roll-out of the system at all ITA depots," the minister informed the House.

He said paper-written certificates of fitness will be a thing of the past.

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