Limit police on ordering tow-away of vehicles
THE EDITOR, Sir:
The towing away of taxis and other vehicles in the city of Montego Bay has been of much concern for operators of motor vehicles. In many instances, for most traffic-related offences, the police have been ordering the towing away of vehicles instead of issuing tickets for breaches.
It is unacceptable for the Montego Bay police Traffic Department to be towing away taxis and other vehicles whenever an offence is committed.
The appropriate procedure is for the police to issue traffic tickets to the offending motorists. Whenever taxis or other vehicles are towed away in Montego Bay, it costs over $8,000 to recover the vehicle from the Transport Authority-operated pound, plus the police traffic ticket fees which must be paid.
The overall figure could easily cost the vehicle owner over $10,000. Many taxi operators in Montego Bay have been complaining about the fact that the police have been towing away their vehicles for most traffic violations when that is grossly unwarranted - a reckless abuse of authority and possible corruption involving the police and tow truck drivers.
Corruption among officers
There have been consistent allegations within the city that the police have been collecting money from tow truck drivers whenever vehicles are towed away and impounded at the pound located along Belvin Avenue in Montego Bay.
Under the Road Traffic Act and regulations, a motor vehicle should be towed away if it is discovered that the vehicle is not insured, which is a major traffic breach.
A vehicle should not be towed away even if the vehicle's fitness certificate has expired. A traffic ticket should be issued to the offending motorist. Even if a police officer discovers that a public passenger vehicle is operating on a route that the taxi is not licensed to operate on, the police should issue a ticket for the offence and the vehicle should not be impounded.
Transport Minister Dr Omar Davies needs to fully investigate this issue of the towing away of taxis and other private vehicles for offences on the roadway and ensure that this reprehensible, scandalous and dastardly act is stopped, for it is a monumental form of oppression and gargantuan abuse of the powers of the police.
One taxi driver based in Montego Bay told me that his taxi was seized by the police and ordered towed away because he was not wearing his transport authority-issued uniform and badge and he had to pay $6,000 to retrieve his vehicle from the pound and another $2,500 for storage fees at the pound.
This, for me, is a travesty of justice and should never have taken place. The police force needs to be informed of the various provisions relating to the Road Traffic and Transport Authority Acts and regulations, and the Island Traffic Authority should proceed to have periodic educational courses for members of the police force.