Wed | Jun 26, 2019

Compensate them! - Knight wants redress for PPV operators over illegally imposed fees

Published:Saturday | September 29, 2018 | 12:00 AMLivern Barrett/Senior Gleaner Writer

Opposition Senator K.D. Knight is suggesting that the Andrew Holness administration give consideration to compensating operators of public passenger vehicles (PPV) who, for nearly three decades, were being forced to pay fees that were illegally imposed and enforced by the Transport Authority.

Further, Knight wants the Government to take steps to clear the driving records of what could be tens of thousands of PPV drivers who have been prosecuted over the period for not paying the fees.

At the same time, the former national security and justice minister accepted that he and his People's National Party are not completely blameless. "I was a part of a ministerial group that failed to have this done," he said.

The suggestions were made yesterday as senators on both sides, like their counterparts in the House of Representatives, voted unanimously to approve a bill that blocks PPV operators from taking legal action against the Government.

The Transport Authority (Validation and Indemnity) Act acknowledged that between December 1989 and December 2015, the regulatory agency, "in good faith, but without legal authority, collected fees from the operators of public passenger vehicles in order to defray the cost associated with their regulation and monitoring of public transportation".

"Disgusting! Terrible!" Knight fumed.

Senator Ruel Reid, the education minister who piloted the bill, promised to relay Knight's suggestions to Cabinet.

Seeking to underscore the gravity of the issue, Knight said that he wondered how many PPV operators had been prosecuted over the 26 years and raised questions about the hardships this has brought on families.

"Operating without paying the fees, and if charged and fined, prevented from operating, and if prevented from operating, prevented from earning a living, and if prevented from earning a living, prevented from providing for their families," he said. "And how many children have suffered as a result and we just come here and say 'OK, validate it'."

Knight added: "I speak, therefore, in condemnation of a system that allows this."