Following an extended grace period granted by the Police Traffic Department, numerous minibuses and hire cars were impounded at various police stations all across the Coast for non-compliance with new traffic regulations implemented by the police.
Among the violations were the placing of markings and drawings on minibuses in contravention of the Road Service Licence.
The Road Service Licence states that there are to be no writings, markings or drawings, or any other materials placed on motor vehicles, except those which are approved by the relevant authorities.
Among the approved markings are the colour code, registration number, zone, seating capacity and destination.
A police source explained that, even though the police had been issuing Road Service Licences since last month, many public transportation operators were hesitant to get theirs early.
This was apparently because, if they (the operators) had done so, they would have had to bring their vehicles into compliance with the new Road Service Licence.
Previously many hire-car drivers and minibus owners and operators had said that they were hesitant to remove the signage from their minibuses.
Some drivers and operators requested additional time to comply with the police direction on the matter, and were pleased when they were given until March 15 to do so.
But, for those who failed to comply, yesterday was a day of horrors.
Many public transportation vehicles were impounded at various police stations yesterday. Reports stated that at the Cove and John Police Station on the East Coast Demerara almost 100 minibuses were impounded.
Many operators, in their eleventh-hour attempts to remove markings and drawings from their vehicles, hastily ripped the stickers from their vehicles, leaving remnants of their hurried efforts.
According to some operators who were waiting with their vehicles at the Cove and John Police Station, the police stopped them en route to Georgetown and made them empty their vehicles, before telling them (the operators) to proceed to the Police Station.
Many commuters therefore found themselves without transportation to Georgetown, and reports have said that some persons had to walk long distances to get to work.
Similarly, many others along West Coast Demerara experienced difficulty finding transportation yesterday morning.
According to reports from some of these detained operators, Road Service Licences expired on Sunday last, but they were unaware of this.
Some operators attempted to get their Road Service Licences yesterday, but were unable to do so because their vehicles were not in compliance with the new Road Service Licence.
The police at the Cove and John Police Station told the operators that they should bring their vehicles up to code, and come back next week Friday to again apply for the Road Service Licence.
This irked the operators who said that they were told that they could not work in the meantime.
“We have to pay the instalments on our vehicles,” said one of the operators, “and it is not fair that we cannot work in the meantime.”
Previously, the Ministry of Home Affairs had been studying the possible legislation of standardising of the colours of all taxis and the elimination of the use of the front seat of taxis by passengers.
Minister of Home Affairs, Clement Rohee, had said that this is one of the measures being considered to stem the prevalence of carjacking – a problem that Guyana has been facing for a number of years.
According to Rohee, apart from the colour standardisation, there was the possibility of having taxis locally remodelled to protect the drivers from troublemaking passengers. Numerous taxi drivers have been held at gunpoint by their passengers, who have relieved them of cash, valuables and in many cases their vehicles.
“Appropriate legislation and orders with respect to number plates and drivers’ licences are currently under consideration,” said the Minister.
The police indicated that as of yesterday they would be intensifying operations in enforcement of the laws in relation to the non-playing of music in public transportation vehicles while on a journey or parked on the roadway.
In addition, the police also noted that they would seek to enforce the non-use of hand-held mobile phones while driving motor vehicles, and would be clamping down on the fraudulent imitating of identification marks on motor vehicles’ number plates and certificates of registration.
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