Kamla: Traffic fines 'just another form of tax'

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar - File photo
Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar - File photo

OPPOSITION Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar is advocating for a review of the demerit system and for investment in training programmes to promote safer driving habits.

Addressing a United National Congress (UNC) cottage meeting in Princes Town on April 22, Persad-Bissessar chastised government for imposing heavy traffic fines on the driving public. She contended that this was not about road safety but another form of taxation by government, using the licensing office to do so.

She said drivers are daily terrorised while navigating bad roads, and to have to contend with another tax at the hands of abusive licensing and police officers is not acceptable.

“Touted as a mechanism for promoting road safety and accountability, the ticketing and demerit points system is being abused by some police and licensing officers and has become a source of anguish and frustration for countless drivers across Trinidad and Tobago.”

Instead of instilling a sense of responsibility, she said, it has bred fear and resentment, fueled by a lack of transparency and trust in the Licensing Division.

“The Government should review the demerit system. People are losing their licences and their ability to earn a livelihood because of the arbitrary behaviour of some licensing and police officers.

“Some of these officers seem to be on a power trip, bullying and abusing citizens regularly.”

She alluded to videos on social media showing officers harassing drivers for offences which, she said, have no basis in law.

“They insult and abuse drivers in front of their families. These officers must be reprimanded for their abusive behaviours towards the public. Officers must be brought to hand and reprimanded for this abusive behaviour.”

At the meeting, where she celebrated her 72nd birthday with party faithful, Persad-Bissessar spoke of a new road-safety system that would offer retraining, instead of imposing harsh financial penalties and suspensions.

The exceptions, she clarified, would be “cases of egregious offences like dangerous driving and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol."

She advocated for investment in training programmes to promote safer driving habits and equip drivers with the skills to navigate the roads responsibly.

“We must explore alternatives to fines and suspensions, such as training and education, and stop taking away people's means to feed their families. Who will feed their families when they can't earn a living?” she asked.

Arguing that traffic fines are too high, she promised, “A UNC government will reduce traffic fines across the board and implement state-sponsored driver education programmes instead.

“What is publicly presented as a mission for public safety is really a scheme for government revenue collection. We cannot ignore the Licensing Authority's (sic) heavy-handed tactics, which have turned our roads into battlegrounds of daily roadblocks and traffic jams.

“This is not about road safety. It is yet another tax drive by the Government, using the Licensing Authority to raise revenue.

“Its property tax, inheritance tax, online tax, tyre tax – tax, tax, tax – and now is Licensing Authority tax."


"Kamla: Traffic fines ‘just another form of tax’"

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