GUY Joseph, Minister for Transport, says that he is not accepting any excuses for the long standing delays in the issuance of national drivers’ licenses. He made the declaration on Tuesday October 29th, in relation to people’s concerns over not being able to produce their driver’s licence when asked to do so by police, who vow to ticket them next time for failing to produce their licences, notwithstanding the fact that their inability to do so is often the fault of the Transport Department.
Persons who have paid for the renewal of their drivers’ licences have been informed by the department to return months later to collect their licences. The reason for the lag was said to be due to the lack of materials needed to issue the drivers’ licence cards. In regards to this situation, The Minister for Transport said, “I have been very disappointed as the Minister of Transport, and I am not accepting the excuses being given by the department for this situation that we have.” The Minister implied that laxity within the public service was not always the fault of public Ministers, indicating that failure to hold accountable persons responsible for negligence, was not helpful to the advancement of the country.
The Minister went on to suggest that facilities for producing ID Cards at the Electoral Department could be utilised for the temporary production of drivers’ licences. On that note he also stated, “As of last week I had a meeting. I said, ‘But we have the ID Card place there; they had all the printing machines, has anybody taken a step to try and find out whether we can get the National ID Card office to print the driver’s licence for us rather than telling people that we have to wait for three months and six months, and when you go there you still cannot get a driver’s licence?’” In addition to this, the Minister further stated, “These are the challenges that we are facing when people are not carrying out their responsibility in the manner that it should be carried out.”
Officials at the department of Transport could not be reached to comment on whether or not it was practical to use the facilities at the Electoral Department to print national drivers’ licences. In relation to the practicality of Guy’s suggestion, the Leader of the Opposition, Phillip J Pierre, stated, “I think it is more complicated and not as simple as transferring it [driver’s licence] to the ID place. It’s not as simplistic as it may sound. There are certain protocols that must be followed. I know it’s an inconvenience but it’s not just a simple case and I would not have just blamed civil servants. I would have looked into the circumstances surrounding the issue.”
The leader of the Opposition further stated that citizens did not work at their whims and fancy. He said, “Civil servants work according to policy and we have to put things in place policy-wise. We have to ensure that the policies are correct and the transactions that follow from that policy are transparent; and the civil servant then, can take the initiative and do what they have to do.”
The Minister for Transport did say however, that the printers for the production had been giving trouble for a long time, as there had been difficulty in sourcing the required material for the functionality of the printers. To redress this issue, he announced, “As of the 3rd of January, we have the commitment that we are going online for the renewal of driver’s licences. We would have a new machine that would be able to print all of the driver’s licences instantly.” He said that persons should be able to obtain their licences within ten minutes of its renewal.