LEF OR WRITE?
Out of 50,000 odd traffic tickets issued in 2009, only just 10,000 were honoured. This means that some 40,000 traffic tickets were not paid.
If you do the math, you can estimate the amount of revenue that was foregone because of the exceedingly large number of unpaid tickets and the failure of motorists to honour these.
Assuming that the average fine per ticket is $5,000, then it means that for 40,000 outstanding tickets, the total fines which were not collected would be $200 million.
This may seem like “chicken feed” considering the billions that are spent each year on the police by the government. It may also seem small considering the cost it takes to administer some police stations.
But $200M in uncollected fines or 80% of total tickets issued, suggests the need to inquire what is really going on and why such a shockingly large number of tickets were not paid.
Could it be that there is a system in which after a person is issued a ticket that he or she has a way of settling the issue other than paying the fine? In short is there “runnings” when it comes to these tickets?
The traveling public knows about “runnings” involving the Guyana Police Force. The “big ones” in society who are chauffeured around may never have been stopped by a traffic cop or if they did, they may have been able to make some call and have their matters taken care of. How many of those 40,000 unpaid traffic tickets were taken care of within the Guyana Police Force?
It seems commendable that the government should be passing legislation to bring some order to this level of unpaid traffic tickets. But it could well be that the system is not working, simply because there may be some alternative means of settling the fine?
It is good also that the government and the opposition can find agreement on at least something. But one would have hoped that the opposition would have been interested in determining why there was such a high delinquency rate for traffic tickets, and instead of merely accepting that this level of delinquency was due to the traffic violators not paying, they would have asked for an inquiry as to whether the reason for the high level of unpaid tickets was because of “administrative ways” of dealing with this issue. There needs to be such an inquiry.
It is good that the government is making efforts to close the door on unpaid traffic tickets, but it would be better if they first ascertained what the main reasons were why these traffic tickets were not paid.
For a small country like Guyana, we are surely racking up a great many traffic tickets. It is believed that we have just under 100,000 vehicles in Guyana. This is perhaps one of the highest rates of vehicles per person in the developing world and shows just how much things have improved since the PPP took office.
In 2009, some 50,000 traffic tickets were issued or a ticket per year for every two vehicles. This has to be something of a record, and is all the more reason why there should be an investigation into the high levels of unpaid tickets. Those with “road sense” know that for every ticket issued, there are many more not issued for offences.
The story goes that there are some corrupt police ranks who when they stop you and allege that you have committed an offence, put an ultimatum to you. They ask whether it will be “lef or write” By “lef” they mean whether you are going to lef (leave) something (a bribe); or whether they should (write) the ticket.
There is also a widespread feeling amongst the people that many traffic violators end up preferring to leave something rather than paying a higher fine. The bribe it is said is most times about half what would have been paid had there been a ticket or in most serious cases, if the motorist was taken to court.
A rough estimate could be that for every one ticket issued four offences are settled privately. This could mean that some 200,000 private settlements take place by the roadside each year.
If the average payment is $5,000 per case then it could mean that one billion dollars in bribes are collected each year by corrupt traffic ranks.
If this is “jumbie arithmetic” there should be little problem in disputing the assumptions underlying the numbers above.
But if what is being written is a reflection of reality, then this should be the grounds for reducing traffic fines rather than simply trying to find a better way of collecting them.