Motorists beg for more time as traffic ticket amnesty ends

Jamaica Observer:-SCORES of motorists who flocked to tax offices on the final day of the Government’s traffic ticket amnesty yesterday, are now appealing for an extension so they can settle their outstanding tickets.

The motorists are asking the Government for at least two additional weeks to fully capitalise on the initiative.

When the Jamaica Observer visited tax offices in Kingston and St Catherine as well as the police Traffic Headquarters at Elletson Road yesterday, the sentiment was the same.

Taxi operator Jasana Grant, who received his printout of outstanding traffic tickets last week, told the Observer that 10 of his 24 tickets were for not wearing a seatbelt, eight were for obstructing traffic, and four were for disobeying parking signs.

Grant explained that even though he has had the printout for a week, he is still unable to pay the $23,000 he owes.

“Mi never have the money at the time. Mi still cyaan find all of it,” Grant, who was accompanied a friend to the tax office, said. “Yute affi eat and bills affi pay.”

The taxi operator, who plies the Papine to downtown route in Kingston, pointed out that he obtained the tickets for obstructing traffic because there is no designated parking area for taxis in downtown Kingston.

He said he appreciates the ticket amnesty, but murmured that he needs more time.

While clutching a pile of papers as he gave instructions to a woman to calculate the amount of money he owed for traffic tickets between 2010 and 2017, Dwight Mitchell told the Observer that most of his tickets were for not wearing a seat belt.

“$100,700,” the woman said after completing her calculation, much to the amusement of the dozens of motorists crammed outside a small window as they awaited their printouts.

Mitchell, who is also a driver by profession, pointed out that he had wanted to pay the tickets earlier but the money “just came through”.

The amnesty allowed motorists to pay outstanding traffic tickets without attracting demerit points over a three-month period, giving them the opportunity to begin with a clean slate before the new Road Traffic Act is implemented.

Like Grant, jeweller Devon McCoy, who was seen in a queue at the downtown Kingston tax office, welcomed the initiative but said he needed more time.

“The amnesty is good. It gives us a chance to redeem ourselves,” McCoy said.

With a sheet of paper consisting of nine outstanding tickets totalling $16,000, McCoy explained that he only had $12,000.

“I wish it coulda expand until the next two weeks or a month. Mi never have it to pay because of the back-to-school period and I had to make that a priority,” he said, adding that he has two sons in sixth form.

When the Observer arrived at the Cross Roads tax office, the door was being manned by a security guard for crowd control, while some motorists who wished to make the most of the amnesty waited outside sun before being were allowed inside.

A taxi operator, who asked not to be identified, said he, too, is asking for the amnesty period to be extended.

The man, who was quick to point out that he received 45 tickets between 2010 and 2017, said he had been inside the building for approximately two hours after a one-hour wait outside.

“Borrow mi affi borrow fi pay some, at least dem cyaan say mi nah try,” he said, adding that he only had $15,000 of the total $65,000 he was to pay.

In July, Minister of National Security Robert Montague told the House of Representatives that current data showed outstanding traffic tickets totalled $2.2 billion.

In addition, there is approximately $566 million in outstanding payments owed to the courts by motorists who contested the offence and were fined after being found guilty up to December 31, 2016.

On Friday, Tax Administration Jamaica told the Observer that just over $300 million had so far been collected from motorists with outstanding traffic tickets.