Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by this author are their own and do not represent the official position of the Barbados Today Inc.
by Gillian Marshall
The launch of EZ-Pay to renew drivers licences online was held in mid-August 2020 with much pomp and pageantry. According to the information posted on the Government Information Service (GIS) website on August 19, 2020, Minister Kay McConney saw this initiative as a way of “pushing for a more modern and efficient government” and to “make transactions easier for Barbadians.”
There was also the great initiative of partnering with the Barbados Postal Service to include a delivery service “right to your door, if you so choose.”
Minister Wilfred Abrahams is quoted as saying “Imagine now a situation where you renew your licence online; you pay for it online; and that licence is delivered to you by the Barbados Postal Service, the very next day.
A safe, efficient transaction…. a bonus in these COVID times”. There was media coverage for the first customer that was able to complete this transaction via EZ-Pay and having her licence delivered directly to her home.
Fast forward, a mere 6 months to February 2021. I went through the process to register on EZ-Pay to renew my driver’s licence. There was no option for home delivery.
After several attempts which had me questioning my sanity, I contacted the Ministry of Innovation Science and Smart Technology (MIST) and was informed that The Barbados Licensing Authority was out of cards and therefore that feature was disabled on the site.
As at August 2021 a notice is posted on EZ-Pay stating that “The Barbados Licensing Authority can no longer print driving licences at this time, and we will advise that the receipt received, along with the expired driving licence, must be kept together at all times until printing resumes”.
According to Robert Jackson, “It is not the function of the Government to keep the citizen from falling into error; it is the function of the citizen to keep the government from falling into error.” So, in trying to be a good corporate citizen I have the following questions:
(1) Can someone explain how in 2021, the Government is unable to deliver to the citizens something as basic as a driver’s licence?
(2) Was any consideration given to persons that have to travel and drive overseas and the validity of the use of this receipt with an expired driver’s licence and its associated challenges?
(3) Was there no thought process to the necessary relationships with other ministries for EZ-Pay to reach its true potential by ensuring all partners were fully equipped with the necessary stock to meet customers’ needs?
(4) Does not disabling the payment feature for delivery means that whenever cards have been replenished thousands of Barbadians are now forced to physically collect the cards in Covid times? The very thing we are trying to avoid.
(5) Do we not owe it to the Barbadian public to explain the associated challenges and communicate the plan and the deadline by which this will be resolved?
(6) Why can persons not upload a photo for the licence, similar to how it is done for passports or visa applications, instead of physically having to get a picture taken at the Licensing Authority, when the necessary equipment is dysfunctional more often than not?
(7) At what point in time will there be a serious investigation into the inefficiencies of the Barbados Licensing Authority which have been plaguing our citizens for years be it staff, systems or both and the necessary improvements made?
If the relevant ministries do not support MIST and its vision, then unfortunately MIST is doomed to failure.
Unfortunately, the norm seems to be huge press conferences followed by absolute failure of processes to function. The citizens of Barbados deserve better. We cannot continue to keep allowing our Government to fall into error without holding them accountable.