New traffic ticket system will bring order, says Chang

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New traffic ticket system will bring order, says Chang

BY ALICIA DUNKLEY-WILLIS
Senior staff reporter
dunkleywillisa@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, August 13, 2020

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MOTORISTS in the Corporate Area will on September 1 experience the first bite of the new hand-held Traffic Ticketing Solution, officially launched by the Ministry of National Security on Tuesday.

National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang said the centralised web-based system, which was introduced in 2010 by the then Bruce Golding-led Administration but was never completed, is critical to helping to restore public order. He said, too, that it will eliminate 25 points of failure that were identified in the current manual, paper-based ticketing process.

He warned that rogue motorists and taxi operators, who have devised ways of beating the system, will not be pardoned by the digital-based system.

“Taxi operators on certain routes in the Corporate Area, in particular, just went about accumulating tickets — various individuals with a thousand tickets — and of course my police officers get blamed and they are told that the car is owned by a policeman, poor officer can't even buy the tyres on the car much less to own a taxi.

“It's all over, all of that will be eliminated and those who breach the Traffic Act will be charged,” Dr Chang told individuals during the launch on Tuesday.

The first 100 devices will be given to police officers manning the Corporate Area roads come September.

“The biggest traffic court is in Kingston and St Andrew, and some of the biggest problems, and if we resolve the Corporate Area the rest will fall into place...” the national security minister said in providing the rationale for starting in the Corporate Area.

The pilot will last for two months and will be followed by a roll-out islandwide, the national security minister said.

“Once the pilot is finished, the intent is to acquire enough hand-held devices to supply the entire staff responsible for traffic policing across Jamaica. We are not going to do a hundred pilots, once this is finished and we are satisfied that these equipment are robust enough to be handled by the police, then we will acquire enough to equip all the traffic police and the Public Safety and Traffic Enforcement Branch (PSTEB) branches across the island,” he said.

Dr Chang also emphasised that the system “will significantly improve public order and safety”.

“The day that citizens from Havendale come down Red Hills Road and feel safe, traffic runs smoothly, and no one is driving on the sidewalk running you off the road... we have to get public order right and restore dignity and a sense of safety in our public spaces.

“What happens on a roadway is a reflection of the level of order in a society, and this is something we have been living with all our lives. Inefficiency leads to all kinds of activities and it creates an ecosystem in which the general public feels that if they can get away with this on the roads, we can get away with other things. It provides a foundation for general illegality,” he insisted.

The national security minister believes the new ticketing system will address a number of issues.

“When an officer writes a ticket, it will go straight into the computerised system so there is no way to remove it from the records... it has to go into the system. If necessary, you can have the court decide afterwards that there were mitigating circumstances. If you wish, you can pay electronically and that stops the whole process, but that record is at the tax office and at the court management office, and it means that if you don't go to court we can issue a warrant immediately without delay,” Dr Chang noted.

He said, too, that the issue of backlogged traffic tickets was one of the biggest challenges facing the courts, pointing to the clean-up last year of a backlog of more than 240,000 tickets which had been stuck in the system.

Dr Chang said it will also be an added safety mechanism for the police.

“A licence plate number can be run and information obtained about the vehicle immediately. This is not just about efficiency, if that licence plate shows up to be that of somebody involved in criminal activity, the officers who are there can approach with a difference. It happened the other day on Constant Spring Road, officers have to now be careful, they might stop a vehicle with criminal gunmen who will shoot them. With the information, their approach will be different, they will be more focused, and if attacked, they can protect themself much more efficiently. It has multiple benefits,” he stated.

The minister, in the meantime, had high commendations for information and communication technology company eGov Jamaica Limited, the courts led by Chief Justice Bryan Sykes, the police, Tax Administration Jamaica, and the staff at the Ministry of National Security.

“This kind of software is very expensive, it is a lot of work to get it done... It is high-quality work that should be valued,” Dr Chang noted.

The Android-based solution is linked to the mobile device or a phablet. There is also a portable hand-held printer, which can be mounted on the police officer's belt. A cop types or scans the individual's driver's licence into the device, which then conducts a search of the government's driver's licence database to verify if the permit is valid and to establish the identity of the individual.

The officer can also search for information on the vehicle by inputting the vehicle's licence plate number, which will yield information on the registration, fitness and insurance as well as the vehicle's specifications. Documents that have expired will be flagged.

It also pulls information which will show whether the vehicle has been reported as stolen, a vehicle of interest used in committing a crime, or if the individual behind the wheel has outstanding warrants.

The full list of offences under the Road Traffic Act and the related fines, demerit points and payment dates are all at the police officer's fingertips. The system will also select the relevant court and supply a date for the court appearance.

The offender receives an e-mailed copy of the ticket, which carries a link to the Tax Administration Jamaica's website, allowing for payment to be made electronically.

On Tuesday, Dr Chang said the newer vehicles in the constabulary's fleet, which are equipped with Android devices, are already using the system.

“The pilot we are doing is related to the actual issuing of tickets and those enforcement activities, but in terms of the look-up and referencing of information on vehicles, etcetera, it is ongoing,” he pointed out.


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