In a bid to ease the backlog of motor vehicles awaiting roadworthiness assessments, lawmakers on Tuesday changed the Road Traffic Act to allow privately operated garages to inspect certain vehicles for both personal and commercial use.
One of the organisations representing more than 800 public service vehicles (PSVs) has welcomed the move as a step in the right direction.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Transport, Works and Water Resources Santia Bradshaw introduced a change of the Road Traffic (Amendment) Act and Road Traffic (Registration Fees) Order, 2018 (Validation) Act in the House of Assembly.
According to the changes which passed the lower House on their way to Senate approval, vehicle owners will now have the option to choose between the Barbados Licensing Authority at The Pine, St Michael, and approved private garages for vehicle inspections and certifications.
Approved garages will offer inspection services at the convenience of vehicle owners through booking appointments, providing a more efficient and accessible inspection process. The Barbados Licensing Authority will also establish an Approved Garages Designation Order to identify and designate approved garages for the public.
After extensive consultations with car dealerships, it was determined that private motor vehicles over 10 years old and used commercial vehicles should be examined by authorised private garages, while the Licensing Authority will continue to inspect and examine other vehicles, Bradshaw told Parliament.
The Licensing Authority will oversee the Approved Garages Designation Order, identifying approved garages with the necessary facilities to conduct inspections and registration services.
Bradshaw said: “What the amendment … seeks to do is to allow for the inclusion now of a definition in the Road Traffic [Act] to allow us to define an approved garage. In this case, the approved garage would be a garage which was approved by the minister in accordance with Section 33 of the new legislation. That approved garage now gives a second option to the general public to be able not only to go to the Pine [vehicle inspection] location but to allow the services that would have been carried out in the Pine, to now be carried out at various public-approved garages across the island.”
Bradshaw emphasised the need for garages to have the required equipment and staffing to ensure the smooth operation of the inspection process.
“Obviously they have to have the necessary equipment to be able to inspect the vehicles. They should also have adequate staffing because this creates, just as it does for Barbados Licensing Authority an administrative function. Somebody has to make the appointment, somebody has to receive the persons when they visit the respective garages just as they do at Licensing Authority, then somebody has to be responsible for the inspection….
“We have to make sure that we improve the service not only at the Barbados Licensing Authority but that we also put in place appropriate mechanisms at the garages that would allow persons the comfort of being able to not have the bottleneck at the Pine location as we currently do,” she said.
In an immediate reaction, the representative body of over 800 minibuses and route taxis, the Alliance Owners of Public Transport (AOPT) expressed support for the changes in the law to allow private vehicle inspections.
Chairman Roy Raphael said the change streamlines the inspection process for private PSVs, reducing the time spent at the Ministry of Transport and Works.
“Often, we find ourselves [spending] long hours at MTW just to have our vehicles examined. I believe that once the vehicle comes from the particular garage, the garage should be in a position to examine the vehicle and certify it as being road-worthy,” he said.
“This is one that is welcomed by the association, basically due to the fact that we have over 800 public service vehicles. In all, we have over 10 000 registered permits for hired cars, ZMs (taxis), ZRs (route taxis) and so on. I think this direction is very good.” (SB/EJ)