TWO CUSTOMISED buses have been bought and are set to be outfitted to be used as mobile licensing offices.
The buses, which cost just over $2 million, are designed to provide basic services to rural areas, where access is otherwise difficult.
They will begin operating within “a few months” says Minister of Works and Transport Rohan Sinanan.
The minister, together with the ministry’s permanent secretary Sonia Francis-Yearwood and Transport Commissioner Clive Clarke, recently discussed their thoughts on the progress and successes of the U-Turn System, implemented earlier this year, along with the ministry’s plans to widen the range of services offered online, with the exception of activities such as vehicle inspections, which require human interaction.
In mid-December, the Ministry of Works and Transport celebrated the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) President’s Award for Innovation in the Public Sector, which it won with its submission, the U-Turn System.
The U-Turn system is intended to transform the Licensing Division and incorporates red-light cameras, a demerit points system, and a reformed fixed-penalty ticketing system.
Sinanan and Clarke used the opportunity to give insight into the ministry’s successes in 2020 and its plans for the new year.
“We have already ordered the buses, where licensing offices will go into rural areas, rather than people having to leave Matelot…Now they can come to Guaico to access some of the services,” Sinanan said.
The Guaico office was opened in July, shortly after construction was completed.
“In the past, they had to leave Matelot to come to Port of Spain. Then Arima, then we opened Caroni. Everyone from Toco to Matelot can go to that area (Guaico) and have their services done.”
As for the two buses, they will be based in Trinidad, but one will go to Tobago once or twice per week, Sinanan said.
The services they will offer include vehicle registration, driving tests, issuing drivers’ permits and certified extracts, and updating drivers’ records, which Clarke said is crucial for the continued success of the U-Turn System.
The Licensing Office allows applicants to apply online for an appointment to apply for a renewal. However, there is still interaction between the customer and customer service representative at the licensing office.
“This is why, we are hoping that by the middle of next year,” Clarke said, “we have no choice but to bring services online, like the renewal of driver’s permits.
“We definitely will be seeking to bring about the opportunity whereby (customers from) business to government can register their vehicles online without having to go to licensing to do the basic paperwork, (perhaps only visiting) to do an inspection. The target is to take the service from the organisation to the home, to the workplace, reducing risk and increasing efficiency.
“And I must say again, what has contributed to that is the demand for accurate data for the U-Turn System. It has forced us to make the change in order to have a successful system.
The system has created an avenue, forcing customers to interface with the Licensing Office, “mainly for the fact that the system calls for information to be accurate,” he said. “For example, if someone uses your vehicle and commits a crime, it means as the owner of that vehicle, having not transferred the vehicle, you will receive the sanctions.
“Because (of perceived) grey areas, we see people coming to the Licensing Office to update their records.”
“We have observed that we’re still seeing much more (people) than we would have seen under normal operations. (But) now we can manage the crowd, coming out of the appointment system.”
Many are also getting accustomed to the use of online services, he said, noting a spike in website visits from 8,000 to 12,000 earlier in December.
Sinanan said the country can see the improvements that have taken place at the Licensing Office over the past four to five years.
“We have a long way to go,” he said. “We accept that. But it’s a significant improvement from where they were.”