Anyone who had the experience of implementing major online databases or introducing new information/communication technologies would have an appreciation of the potential pitfalls.
Even after testing, many things can go wrong. And they usually do, as is often the experience with many first-generation gadgets.
That is why - even as we agree that the system should have undergone robust examination and cross-referencing ahead of its launch - we remain sympathetic with the public officials who oversaw the development of overdue traffic tickets, for which the Government has offered an amnesty.
The amnesty relates to tickets issued prior to September 21, 2010 that were not paid within stipulated periods and for which the offenders did not turn up in court. The six-month amnesty, which came into force this week, will free those who now pay their fines from the possibility of prosecution.
There are, it has been reported, more than 400,000 outstanding tickets on the database. At its launch this week, some people who checked their status discovered, they reported, that they were listed as owing fines that had long since been paid.
We do not know that this problem, apparently caused by the attempt to consolidate old paper-based files with the new electronic one, is either deep, or overwhelming. Our sense is that it isn't.
However, it holds the potential for point-scoring and nit-picking, which can undermine the exercise. Indeed, we perceive signs of this.
The authorities have, rightly, closed access to the database while they recheck and cross-reference. That should be done quickly and the project proceeded with, rather than be allowed to collapse.
What must be done is for the authorities to benchmark, against global best practices, the system's tolerance for errors then proceed with its operation. Errors within the established tolerance can be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. Additionally, the period of the amnesty should be extended by the time lost for the checks now being done.
We must, however, not allow an essentially good system to be defeated by what most likely are a few teething problems.
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