PPV deadline extension

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PPV deadline extension

By Balford Henry Observer senior reporter
balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, September 04, 2020

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THE decision by the Transport Authority (TA) to extend its amnesty for the renewal of road licences for public passenger vehicles (PPV) is aimed at easing the economic plight of owners who have been negatively affected by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

In making the announcement recently, customer service coordinator at the TA, Charlene Hamilton, pointed out that the reprieve from paying the late fees was initially for the period July 2020 to August 31, but repeated requests from the owners/operators of these vehicles led to an extension of the payment period to the end of September.

“The Transport Authority thought it prudent to do an amnesty in response to these persons whose licences expired on March 31, 2019. They are able to renew, and there is a further incentive with this amnesty arrangement where there is a deferral of payments of late fees that would normally be charged for unrenewed licences beyond March 31,” she said.

However, she cautioned that owners of public-passenger vehicles who fail to take up the amnesty by September will not be able to remain on the road legally, and special arrangements are in place at the TA to accommodate the operators, so that there can be strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols in renewing their licences.

“We are encouraging them to take up the offering of the amnesty, because after the 30th of September, they will not be able to renew their licences,” Hamilton noted.

For additional information on this issue call (876) 618-0959.

However, the owners/operators of these vehicles may be facing some serious challenges later this year primarily in terms of the prolonged issue of outstanding traffic ticket payments, as well as the misuse of space at service/gas stations.

Last year, the police issued 565,350 traffic tickets for various offences with fines totalling over $1.1 billion. Now that is a worthwhile low-hanging fruit for any administration faced with increasing deterioration in the economy and a huge hole in revenues, in a period when there is uncertainty about handling this novel coronavirus pandemic.

According to information released by the Planning Institute of Jamaica, traffic tickets leapt 18 per cent over the previous year's (2018) number.

At the end of the year, 51.7 per cent of the tickets with fine totalling just over $591 million had been paid, but 43 per cent, valued at $479 million, were still before the court (up to the end of the year) and the remaining 5.4 per cent, valued at $57.4 million, were still outstanding.

It should be evident that an administration strapped for revenue, due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, could see the value of another $500-$600 million in income as a genuine low-hanging fruit.

However, the chance of another amnesty for outstanding traffic tickets seems a way little off at this time, as the fact is that with the low turnout of Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) buses, and the need for them to ensure some social distancing to reducing the possibility of infections, has increased the value of the private operations to the public transport system despite their threat to the efficiency and effectiveness of the road traffic system.

But, there are other issues threatening the operations of the private carriers, including the insistence of some owners/operators to turn private petrol stations into their own terminus.

The Jamaica Gasoline Retailers Association (JGRA) has been pushing for the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) to protect gasoline retailers from the take-over of their premises by private transport vehicles, for some time now.

JGRA President Gregory Chung has made appeals for support for the station owners in clearing the premises of the taxis for sometime, without much success.

At a press conference in February, he noted that service stations in the towns suffer from severe congestion created by motorists who are not bona fide customers. He followed up in a more recent presentation to a joint select committee of Parliament which has been reviewing the long awaited Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Bill which seeks to protect workers from harm created by accidents at the stations.

Two recent fires at service stations have raised the consciousness of the society to the threat of major ones easily erupting from simple things like a cigarette butt burning on the premises, and these have been brought to the attention of the OSH committee, which should resume sitting very early in the post-general election period.


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