Chang eyes online traffic ticket payment system

Chang eyes online traffic ticket payment system

Sunday, September 01, 2019

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IF Minister of National Security Dr Horace Chang has his way and things go according to plan, motorists who get tickets by the police for traffic infractions will not have to visit collectorates around the island to pay fines.

This is because progress is being made to allow motorists to pay their fines online, so as to ease the burden on tax collection agencies, and allow motorists to have an easier option of parting with their money.

Such a move would be part of the overall plan to overhaul the system by which traffic tickets are issued, and by extension, to clear up the matter of hundreds of thousands of unpaid tickets that still exists, resulting in a shortfall of several millions of dollars that would have gone into the Consolidated Fund.

There are in excess of 360,000 unpaid traffic tickets and the police force is putting measures in place to compel offending motorists to pay up or face sanctions.

That major, new online proposal, Dr Chang believes, will make the big difference in the Government being able to have a more efficient collection system.

“The long-standing and real challenge is that we have four agencies critical to the successful disciplining of drivers who breach the road code. The police are the first, with issuing tickets, the courts system must work well, the Island Traffic Authority must work and all of those three must link effectively with Tax Administration, to ensure that there is effective enforcement of the law,” Dr Chang said in a mid-week interview with the Jamaica Observer.

“We have a system now where all four operate in silos and therefore the entire ticketing system and enforcement of tickets gets dysfunctional and you end up with a blame game, and in the end the police get frustrated.

“The court system has a legacy system that is primitive and they operate in isolation from the traffic authority and the tax office.

“Within that system we end up with well over 300,000 tickets that could not be accounted for and was just congesting the system, further complicating it which means not only is the court system primitive, but they couldn't issue warrants because they didn't know what to issue warrants for. There was no difference between tickets which were paid, not paid, or delayed and that whole system was impossible to work with.”

Dr Chang said that the Ministry of National Security has already put a team together and has cleaned up the backlog of congestion in the ticketing process of 360,000 tickets over the last 12 weeks.

“We have been able to put them in acceptable order so now we expect that in the next fortnight to begin to issue warrants easily. We have had some productive meetings with the Court Management Unit, including the Chief Justice (Bryan Sykes), who took an interest in this. We have also decided to provide some basic equipment for the court management system, like workable laptops. Although it was a Ministry of Justice portfolio, it was a collaborative effort in getting it done,” Dr Chang said.

By mid-September, Dr Chang suggested, the national security ministry should be able to move aggressively and have a functioning ticket system and by October to be able to issue warrants electronically.

“The chief justice is concerned about some of the inefficiencies and I've heard him speak of getting his foot through 120 per cent output on an annual basis so that he can catch up with the backlog of court cases. He has also been very cooperative in determining how we can ensure we have an efficient ticketing enforcement process. The ultimate goal that we can achieve is providing the police with an electronic means to write the tickets, which would put the information in real time into both the ITA [Island Traffic Authority], the courts system and Tax Administration.

“Once the fine is paid, your name comes down. If it isn't paid, you go to court, and pay or face trial. If you don't go to court, a warrant can be issued within a certain time frame, automatically. A record would be kept regarding demerit points. So if you refuse to go to court, having been issued a warrant, then a red flag will go up and the judge will have no alternative but to suspend your licence because that's the law if you accumulate 14 demerit points by X or Y. We have made significant progress in that system,” Dr Chang said.


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