Livern Barrett, Gleaner Writer
JUST OVER $2.5 billion is owed to the Government in unpaid traffic tickets.
This was revealed on Monday by head of the Police Traffic Division, Senior Superintendent (SSP) Radcliffe Lewis, who said a large portion of these tickets date back to 1995 when the old ticketing system was implemented.
That system was replaced in September 2010 by the current traffic ticket management system (TTMS).
The disclosure by Lewis came on the first full day of the Government's amnesty on unpaid traffic tickets that were issued before the TTMS was implemented on September 21, 2010.
It also came as another state agency, the Transport Authority (TA), reported a disappointing response to the amnesty on impounded vehicles.
That amnesty took effect on April 16 and was scheduled to expire next Monday, but communications and customer service manager at the TA, Petra-Kene Williams, said it will be extended for another month because of the poor response.
Up to Monday, Williams said only 11 per cent of the 1,300 vehicles at the TA's pounds had been disposed of.
"What the Authority has found is that many of the operators who come to have the vehicles released under the amnesty, are not yet in possession of the titles," she said.
However, according to SSP Lewis, scores of persons visited the Traffic Division's Elletson Road offices in Kingston on Monday seeking to take advantage of the amnesty on unpaid traffic tickets, which took effect July 1 and is scheduled to last for six months.
As a result, he said, 12 additional personnel had to be brought in to assist members of the public with their enquiries.
"The response has been great so far and people are capitalising on the generosity of the Government," he told The Gleaner.
A fresh start
Under the amnesty, which was announced by the Ministry of National Security, persons with outstanding traffic tickets can go in to any tax collectorate islandwide and pay the fines stipulated and be cleared of all related offences.
"It will allow many drivers to make a fresh start and help to clear the thousands of outstanding traffic tickets, while also bringing much-needed relief to the already overburdened court system," National Security Minister Peter Bunting said of the amnesty.