PPV operators exploring legal challenge to tracking devices

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PPV operators exploring legal challenge to tracking devices

BY ALPHEA SAUNDERS
Senior staff reporter
saundersa@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, January 16, 2020

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A year after the Government announced the requirement for all new Public Passenger Vehicle (PPV) applicants to have their units fitted with tracking devices, head of the Jamaica Association of Transport Owners and Operators (JATOO) Louis Barton says operators remain staunchly opposed.

He says the operators are now exploring legal options to overturn the measure, which the Government implemented last February.

The requirement is part of the criteria for new road licences under the Government's Electronic Fleet Management System.

Last Friday, the Transport Authority reiterated that new road licence applicants are mandated to have a tracking device installed on their vehicles as February 17 — the start of the 2020/21 licensing period — approaches.

Speaking with the Jamaica Observer last Friday, Barton stated: “As far as JATOO is concerned, all members remain opposed. We don't think it's necessary. Most members already have a system for their own private and personal protection, and we don't see the benefit to us, or even the passengers, for a tracking system to be installed by the Transport Authority, because it's really for the authority. We don't mind paying for it for ourselves if we determine that the tracking system can serve our needs, but this is just another way of taxing us.”

He said the association intends to mount a legal pushback, even at this stage.

“We intend to take the legal route. There are a group of us who are trying to come together to put a petition together to stop the tracking system [but] that's not going too good so far. We have already contacted a lawyer,” he said.

According to Barton, the operators have also taken steps to take their case to the public defender to seek legal advice.

“It's just an extra tax and we aren't getting anything out of it,” he said.

The JATOO head explained that, in addition to the initial cost of the device, operators will incur a monthly service charge. He argued that it is understandable that Transport Authority wants to keep tabs on operators who go outside of their routes or do not complete their routes, “we are not encouraging that”, but that the same level of monitoring was not necessary for operators who are licensed to operate across the entire Kingston Metropolitan Transport Region, for example.

He added that being able to track the vehicle if it is stolen does not provide any protection to the driver, citing incidents where drivers are hijacked and killed by the time they are found, despite having trackers on their vehicles.

“So that is no protection to the driver,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Transport Authority also said that it would begin motor vehicle examinations on January 13, in preparation for the renewal of road licences which expire on March 31.

The authority said the early start of examinations is to facilitate the timely submission of road licence applications for the start of the 2020/21 road licensing period.

“The early commencement of motor vehicle examination is part of the authority's thrust to provide convenient and efficient service to customers. Under this facility, licensees are not required to pay the motor vehicle examination fees upfront, as the fees will be collected upon submission of their applications for renewal of their road licences,” it said in a news release last Friday.

The authority stressed that if PPV owners fail to complete the renewal process by March 31, their road licences would be invalid as of April 1.


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