Wednesday, September 18, 2019

T&T: WhatsApp message creates panic

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Trinidad Express:-A WhatsApp message yesterday caused panic among motorists who scampered to have their vehicles five years and older inspected.

Police and Licensing officers said that motorists with vehicles five years and over really do need to have them inspected, but at the same time they shouldn’t panic about it.

The WhatsApp message shared yesterday morning stated, “Recently there have been messages being shared stating that come Monday, February 20, 2017 (yesterday), Police and Licensing officers will be out in force checking vehicle inspection stickers and certificates.”

The message continued, “The fine for not having this sticker up-to-date is TT$5,000, while others quote TT$1,000 and TT$7,500.”

Road safety coordinator with the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service PC Brent Batson said that he, too, had seen the text message and during a meeting yesterday with Transport Commissioner Wayne Richards they were happy with the fact that this message, which did not originate from either men, was urging the motoring public to do the right thing.

According to PC Batson, “With the phrasing of the WhatsApp message, one can easily construe that there is an automatic fine associated with committing the offence of not having one’s car inspected, but the fact is that under the Road Traffic Act this is a summary fine so it requires that the driver or owner of the vehicle to appear before the court for the magistrate to impose fine at his or her discretion.”

Yesterday’s social media message caused much panic with some vehicle testing stations being caught off guard to handle the large volume of motorists demanding that their cars be inspected “now!”

“I am not leaving here until my car has been passed,” said a woman who pounded the counter of a vehicle testing station in San Juan.

Interim president of the Association of Vehicle Inspection Stations in Trinidad and Tobago, Phillip Greaves, told the Express he was not the one behind the WhatsApp message although in parts of the message his name was mentioned.

He said that at his own station, Valley Auto Centre in Diego Martin, he, too, was flooded with requests for immediate vehicle testing to be done. Forty-five vehicles were passed and stickers given put.

He added, however, that although he did not have the number of vehicles that failed the inspection, “there were many”.

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