Sun | Dec 4, 2016

Seize uninsured vehicles - Parliamentary committee

Published:Friday | February 13, 2015 | 12:00 AMEdmond Campbell

MOTORISTS WHO drive a vehicle without insurance coverage could run into trouble with the law as a parliamentary committee reviewing the Road Traffic Act has recommended that the police should have the power to seize uninsured vehicles when the proposed new legislation is passed by Parliament.

The committee's decision came Wednesday after rigorous debate on whether the police should be granted such powers in light of alleged corruption involving members of the force, who allegedly own wreckers or are aligned to wrecking companies.

At the end of extensive deliberations, committee member and minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing, Dr Morais Guy, argued that lawmakers had a duty to send a strong signal to persons driving without insurance.

"We owe it to the people, the motoring public and the passengers we carry in this country," he said.

With insurance companies notifying their clients well in advance of the expiry date of the coverage, Dr Guy charged: "You ought to put your house in order before you can put your vehicle on the road. I feel despite the fact that there is alleged corruption in the system, we need to protect the commuters on the roads and seize the vehicles when there is no insurance."

His colleague, portfolio Minister for Transport, Works and Housing, Dr Omar Davies, who is also chairman of the committee, said he refused to send any signal of tolerance for persons driving without insurance. "I go with the seizure of vehicles without insurance," Davies concluded.

RESERVATIONS

Committee members Richard Parchment and Fitz Jackson expressed strong reservations about granting the police powers to seize uninsured vehicles, arguing that there was more than anecdotal evidence that some members of the force are inextricably linked to the wrecking companies.

However, Deputy Superintendent Gary McKenzie, of the Police Traffic Division, urged the Joint Select Committee examining the Road Traffic Act to impose tougher sanctions on motorists who drive uninsured vehicles. He made it clear that the current fine for driving a vehicle without insurance was woefully inadequate and that the option to seize the vehicle should be crafted in the new Road Traffic Act.

The senior traffic cop argued that on a regular basis, persons turn up at police stations complaining that they received serious injuries in motor vehicle accidents and the vehicles were not insured.

Quizzed by committee chairman Dr Omar Davies about the allegations of police wrong-doing in relation to vehicle seizures and imposition of wrecking fees, McKenzie informed the committee that it was the Transport Authority that approved the tow trucks and set rates for towing vehicles.

edmond.campbell@gleanerjm.com