Traffic jam

Learner drivers frustrated by lengthy delays at licensing

The already mentally taxing experience of driving tests is becoming nothing short of a nightmare for learner drivers and their driving instructors.

For months now, testing officers have been crying out for changes at the Licensing Authority in order to ease the pressure on students, but to no avail.

The driving instructors maintain that a shortage of testing officers was leading to long lines, lengthy waits and postponements, placing added pressure on already nervous learner drivers.

When Barbados TODAY visited the Licensing Authority in The Pine, St Michael shortly after 9 a.m. Tuesday, a large number of vehicles had already queued up on the compound, with instructors gathered outside, while impatient learners either were asleep in the vehicles or sat snacking. Some had even left, clearly convinced that they would complete their assignments and be back in plenty of time.

Driving instructors lined up awaiting testing officers.

Veteran driving instructor Erskine Cumberbatch vented his frustrations, as he pleaded with the authorities to be considerate of the learners, and to do whatever was possible to ease the stress on the students.

“Think about the students when you are making decisions. It’s alright to sit down and waste time but put yourself in the position of a student. It’s not easy and it’s very hard on the driving instructor as well. But my main concern is the students.

“If I’m up here for an entire day to do one test, I’m going to be tired and can’t do anything else for the rest of the day. The student would be frustrated. Anyone would get frustrated. You build up yourself to get this thing, you build up yourself for a particular day then to be told you have to wait again or you might have to come back,” he said.

Cumberbatch explained that having just three testing officers operating daily was not working out, with back ups within the system causing a trickle down effect.

Erskine Cumberbatch

“There are only three testing officers at present and that is a result of other persons going off on retirement and so on. There used to be about seven or eight. There are no replacements up to now and that’s why the situation is where it is right now.

“It’s putting a strain on the entire process. It puts a strain on the testing officers because they have to fill the void and it will put a strain on us the driving instructors. For instance, my student was here since 5:30 a.m., it’s now minutes to ten and he hasn’t even left the yard as yet. I’m not even sure it will be done today because they may do about ten or 12 and call it quits,” he said.

The driving instructor added that in the past, about 40 to 60 tests were done daily, a far cry from what pertains today.

“Having to wait so long affects the students tremendously as well. I had a student last week who came at ten minutes past six and I sat down here until 3 p.m. to be told they have to come back in June.

“You have a permit that expires in six months, you might have had a date for March or April and you cannot do that test because you aren’t capable enough as yet of handling the road. You are going to get a reschedule for another four or five months down the road, that means you have to renew that permit in order to get a date on it. And you aren’t going to get that date unless it’s renewed. So it’s almost a year you’re dealing with that,” he lamented.

The long lines at Licensing Authority for driving tests.

Another driving instructor, who asked not to be identified, spoke of the ineffectiveness of the scheduling system, saying appointments meant little in the current circumstances.

“[It] doesn’t make sense having timed tests anymore. If your test is April 18th there is no guarantee that you would be able to do it that day. Sometimes you would come mentally prepared to do your test and get turned back and get rescheduled for two, three months later. I have students who came in last month and get rescheduled all in August. They really need to hire more testing officers, its about time,” he said.

Barbados TODAY spoke to one student who had done the test, albeit about five hours later than scheduled, and after a rush to get papers in.

“I left home that morning around 6 a.m. as instructed by my driving instructor in order to be early in line to hand in my permit at the front desk. While there, the line was long and once the door was opened and the gentleman collected the papers, I had to push my way to the front of the line, in order to get my papers in. I passed my test that day, thank God, because that was a long and stressful day which I would not wish for anyone,” she explained.

In a brief comment to Barbados TODAY Tuesday evening, Minister of Transport and Works Michael Lashley said he was aware of the ongoing problems and was working to have the vacant positions filled.

He asked driving instructors and testing officers to be patient in the interim.

“We are aware of it because some testing officers have left. We are actually waiting for the posts to be filled. We have made the request and the situation is being handled. I won’t be able to say when they will be filled but I will check on it,” Lashley said.

12 Responses to Traffic jam

  1. Samantha Best April 19, 2017 at 6:03 am

    Nothing to check really!! This is the ineffective,inefficient and outdated methods being used at the Personnel Administration Division. They ask for 8 weeks notice to fill a vacancy and sometimes 6 months have passed and nothing happens. That Division has outlived its usefulness.

  2. BIGSKY April 19, 2017 at 6:11 am

    Note just like the Certificate of Character,ours citizens are in the sun in long lines.We treat our citizen extremely poor,making them beg for the services whilst fleecing them with taxes .The said can be said for the magistrate courts where people have to wait for long periods outside in the elements and the Bus Terminal in Fairchild Street where HUNDREDS of commuters are there at any given day but just FIVE benches are there for seating. The wait sometimes is up to four hours.IT AMAZES ME THAT WITH SUCH EDUCATED PEOPLE THE COMMON SENSE IS LACKING,all of these problems that I spoke about can be fixed easily without any high cost.I visited the Licensing Authority recently and the officers/clerks are arrogant and have this attitude as if they are doing you a favor.This government have hired more workers for the NCC but in the key areas like cashiers and officers to take the learners on the road to do the exam,they turn a blind eye.In areas like the Certificate of Character and the Licensing Authority where you collect so much revenue, hire people in the key areas so your citizen won’t have to feel as if they are begging.

    • Jennifer April 19, 2017 at 6:31 am

      @Big sky – Overall you put a pin in that balloon early. I like that – fleecing. Sounds kind of sheeple. Blame that good ole edication SYSTEM. I guess the box is the problem. Thank god for the finer things such as melanin. What a load………….

  3. hcalndre April 19, 2017 at 7:43 am

    Barbados is one of the worse places to do any kind of business and have the idiocy of speaking of 1st world status, can`t get the buses to run on time, no time of the day, they are 2 speeds that barbados operates at, “Slow and Stop.” Then you have to deal with a set of pompous people that believe you are beggars, what a shame.

  4. Milli Watt April 19, 2017 at 8:48 am

    do like everybody else… without a license. DAT EASY!!!!!!

  5. Ejd April 19, 2017 at 9:47 am

    There is so much wrong in my country.

  6. lester April 19, 2017 at 12:30 pm

    now i understand why the failure rate so high when going for a drivers permit, can one person get 14/20 three to four times straight? and those testing officer jobs for SPECIAL PEOPLE, what are the qualifications for a testing officer? stupsseee

  7. tsquires April 19, 2017 at 2:30 pm

    We will be in this morass until most of us inner-stand that learning is not Education, this is one method being used to hijack (control) people’s minds, getting them to accept that amassing facts and figures is education, while neglecting to educe what is already on the inside, hence we have loads of students leaving school completely unable to Think.

  8. Rupert Greaves April 19, 2017 at 3:33 pm

    If you are impatient to be tested, you will be just as impatient when you are on the road. Teaching all types of patience should be part of the Instructor’s job. Most of the accidents on the road are caused by impatient drivers.The same people who are talking are no quicker on their jobs but we never take the time to look at ourselves. You just should not put any Tom, Dick or Harry in a Testing Officer’s position simply to satisfy Driving Instructors who just want to move on to the next student when there are so many lives out there that are lost everyday because you people cannot wait. A Testing Officer should only be given the job if he/she qualifies and not simply to fill a vacancy or to stop people from criticizing PAD or to talk about how bad or slow Barbados is..

  9. jennifer April 19, 2017 at 3:40 pm

    @tsquires- sounds robotic to me. This is what I have been saying about that conveyor slave belt. Mind u the politicians on the top of the machinery realing them on via these tainted, rigged SYSTEMS.

  10. Mack April 19, 2017 at 4:02 pm

    I remember the days when a person with a 9th standard education would enter the civil service and perform all these duties in excellent fashion. These days we have all these people with all these qualifications and they can’t find their way out of an open paper bag, What all this education is doing for us.?????

    Same thing with the polaticians, all these lawyers and doctors running these ministries and we can get the buses to run or the garbage pick-up. In the days when they had grass root polaticians all these things were done efficiently. What is wrong, could some one please explain to me.????

  11. Mikey April 19, 2017 at 6:49 pm

    It is easy to think that a government that has no money would put staff in place to get some quick dollar bills from that department, but NO, they rather TAX the poor instead of seeing that revenue generating areas of government are efficiently run.


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