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Support for plan on fake licence plates

Government’s planned crackdown on the use of fake vehicle registration numbers, especially by persons who are seeking to commit crimes, has won the backing of local plate manufacturers,
even though at least one of them suggests it should not come at the expense of legitimate operators.

Addressing a political meeting last weekend, Minister of Transport and Works Michael Lashley served notice that changes would be made to the Road Traffic Act, with a view to bringing the illegal road practice to a halt.

“What we are saying, because we know that you can go and get a car and put a licence plate on it and go and commit a crime and go and take off the plate and go and commit another crime . . . rob a bank, rob a gas station, do whatever, that we are going to place the onus on a manufacturer of licence plates; that in order for a licence plate to be issued, you [motorist] have to produce a valid ID, a valid licence, proof of ownership, proof of transfer, a whole set of conditions,” Lashley said.

In response, the owner of Everyday Signs Norma Weir said she was in support of the move to ensure full registration of licence plate numbers.

“We know we are supposed to check the registration number, we know we are supposed to check certain information, so yeh, I think the onus should be on the competent people that are providing the service,” Weir said.

However, the Four Roads, St Philip manufacturer is worried that amid the crackdown, a ‘Peter pays for Paul’
scenario could develop and is therefore urging the authorities not to make legitimate plate makers pay for the actions of illegitimate ones.

“If a person is producing a plate that does not meet the criteria, deal with that person. If a person is taking a plate and doing illegal activity, deal with that person. But to expect that Government can police and deliver the kind of expectation, is really unrealistic and unreasonable,” she added.

Weir, who is passionate about her business, said the time had come for Barbadians to start taking responsibility for their actions.

“We get on like we are in school, like everybody must teach us, everybody must feed us and everybody must do things for us. Where is our accountability?”

The businesswoman added that she was “sick and tired” of hearing the suggestion being made that Government should produce all of the country’s licence plates.

“You know that every time people open their mouths they don’t deal with the problem. They look for short-cut solutions, instead of saying, ‘let’s be responsible’ and deal with the people who break the law,” she emphasized.

A top executive of M Grafix Incorporated told Barbados TODAY that the minister’s proposal to regulate the sector was the way to go.

“It makes sense,” said Samuel Gittens, one of the people behind the Haggatt Hall, St Michael sign and licence plate business.

“There are no regulations right now apart from the specifications, but there needs to be a formal arrangement put in place. We want to work within the law,” Gittens said.

A management official of Sign Station, who did not want to be identified, also agreed that the makers must be responsible for keeping licence plate scammers off the roads.

“I think it is a very good idea,” said the official in a terse response.

The Royal Barbados Police Force has also been expressing concern about the lack of checks and balances which allow people to use false number plates to “get away” with the commission of crimes.

Lashley has also announced that he and Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite were looking at other provisions to include in the proposed amended Road Traffic Act.

“We believe that the onus should also be placed on the person who owns the vehicle . . . and the onus should be [to] furnish that information to the licensing authority. We want reports. We want to know who went there, who get the licence plates, we want to see the valid ID, we want to see the valid drivers’ licence and we want to check,” revealed the Minister of Transport and Works.

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