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‘Licence, insurance and $500’

 I wish to express my absolute disgust at the abuse of the public by the wrecking services being utilised in the Port of Spain area. While too many Trinidadians break the law on the nation’s roadways and must be kept in line, this wreck-for-profit mistreatment must not be allowed to continue. 

In July 2013, Downtown Owners and Merchants Association president Gregory Aboud stated in an interview “...the ambiguity which existed about where to park and where not to park was being exploited by the wreckers to the disadvantage of unsuspecting motorists”. (Newsday)

An article published in the Guardian in November 2013 stated the Port of Spain City Corporation receives on average $1 million a month in revenue from wrecking. While this figure has not been corroborated for the knowledge of the public, this monetary aspect appears to be the driving force behind these wreckings and not the easy flow of traffic. 

The Motor Vehicle and Road Traffic Act gives authority to the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service to tow vehicles that are infringing on road traffic laws, but before a vehicle is removed the officer must attempt to locate the driver and even after a vehicle is hooked up to a wrecker and the owner arrives, the vehicle can be released. Yet there have been incidents where a driver opened the front door and had his foot inside the car, but had to jump away as his car was towed anyway. Also, there was the incident of an eight-year-old boy screaming for help in the back seat of his grandfather’s SUV as it was being towed away. (Express, 2013)

Recently, my colleague received a phone call letting her know her car was being towed from outside our office. This was even though she had parked on the correct side of the street that day, and well within the curb. A bystander who saw what happened told her, “It wasn’t looking like it was less than nine metres.” That law needs to be changed in any case. Nine metres is a ridiculous amount of space to leave at a curb considering the numerous corners along a Port of Spain street, which means between two corners parking is not allowed for almost 60 feet! 

My colleague went to the Police Traffic Branch in Sea Lots and was told by a wrecker driver Traffic Branch “wasn’t wrecking there today”. She then left and went to look for her car at Invaders’ Bay near MovieTowne, and was told by the attendant, “Licence, insurance and $500.”

My colleague was further told City Corporation only wrecks according to the yellow lines, and the attendant was positive there were yellow lines on that street where her car was wrecked. Upon checking, my colleague realised there are no yellow lines. She was further told they “don’t guess anymore”, now they use laser technology and cameras.

With the laser technology, the officer must stand at the curb to measure how far the vehicle is from it. All of this is still subject to indiscriminate and corrupt behaviour because of the police officer’s standing distance from the vehicle is relevant and a picture cannot show how far a car is from the curb if there is no line. 

If my colleague’s friend did not see what was happening, she would have attempted to leave work at 4 p.m. and thought someone had stolen her car. Something must be done to save honest citizens from this abuse!

Rhonda Kangalee

via e-mail

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