Wed | Oct 23, 2019

Alwyn Gregory | Renewing driver’s licence: welcome to hell

Published:Wednesday | October 9, 2019 | 12:10 AM

Recently, I went to the tax office in Mandeville to renew my driver’s licence. I entered the building at 8:40 a.m. and exited two hours and 22 minutes later with my renewed driver’s licence. It was a time-consuming and exasperating experience.

The following is the timeline and steps I had to take to have my licence renewed:

Step 1 (5 mins): I enter the tax office and, thinking I need to first pay the requisite fee, join the designated cashier line for this type of transaction, only to be told by the cashier that I have to join another line to first fill out a form.

Step 2 (20 mins): It turns out not to be a line but a counter with two clerks. I am a bit confused at first as to the procedure as there is no discernible line, but it soon becomes apparent when one of the attendants asks, “Anyone not getting through?” After two persons who were apparently ahead of me has answer in the affirmative, it is my turn, and I am handed a form and told to fill it out, which I do. All the information required on the form is on my driver’s licence, which I find odd as obviously, the Government has this information sitting somewhere on a computer, so why is it necessary for me to fill out a form with said information? Isn’t this a waste of time and stationery?

Step 3 (20 mins): My form is collected and checked, and I’m told to wait for my name to be called.

Step 4 (5 mins): My name is called, and I’m directed to a lady sitting at a desk behind a counter. She hands me the form and a bit of paper with something scribbled on it in red ink. I am then directed to rejoin the cashier line I had joined at the very beginning.

Step 5 (25 mins): I join the line, but now there are seven persons ahead of me; I wait my turn and pay the requisite fee.

Step 6 (20 mins): I return to the aforementioned counter and hand a clerk my old driver’s licence, the completed form, and the tax receipt. I’m told to again wait for my name to be called.

Step 7 (5 mins): My name is called, and I’m again directed to go behind said counter into a room where I have my photograph taken. I am then told to wait outside for my name to be called. I enquired as to how long it will take and I’m told 20 minutes.

Step 8 (40mins): After waiting 30 minutes and not hearing my name, I enquire as to the status of my licence. It takes another 10 minutes for a clerk to leave the said counter to go search for my new licence. I say ‘search’ because I could actually see her searching a file jacket to try to locate it.

Step 9 (2 mins): The clerk returns, and I sign for my licence and exit the building thinking, ‘What an inefficient, time-wasting, convoluted system!’

In this computer age, why isn’t it possible to pay the licence renewal fee online and present my driver’s licence to a clerk at the tax office, who then retrieves the information from a computer and prints my receipt, and thereafter my picture is taken and my new licence printed? I would like to think this three-step process should take less than half an hour.

I overpaid on my land tax last year, and I recently received notice that my land tax is due. I called the tax office customer service to ask why the overpaid tax had not been credited to the account, only to be told I will have to come into the office personally to have this done. I shudder to think how long this is gonna take.

Is it beyond our capabilities to do better, Mr Minister of Finance? Certainly, it must be in the Government’s interest to make it easy for citizens to pay their tax obligations.

Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and alwyngregory@yahoo.com.