Pay up or face the courts

DELINQUENT operators in the public transport sector are being urged to pay their outstanding tickets before the full brunt of the law is brought to bear on February 1.

This time the plea comes from head of Transport Operators Development Sustainable Services (TODSS) Egeton Newman, who has shifted his position from the call for a payment plan to clear the tickets owed, by January 31, but at the same time has made clear that the sector is prepared to take the fight to the courts.

National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang signalled this week that the Government remains firm in its position that outstanding fines must be paid, or delinquents will face consequences.

In response, Newman advised operators, owners, and other public transport association heads in a closed social media group that the association would seek legal advice from its attorneys, but in the meantime, operators need to seek counsel from the heads of their associations.

“All of us are in trouble at this time — both drivers and owners. Owners are in trouble because if drivers don’t pay the tickets they won’t have any drivers, and drivers are in trouble because they owe outstanding tickets. We are saying, we want to contest it in court, so that’s where we are going as transport operators,” stated Newman who earlier this week had threatened a strike by public transport operators.

Speaking in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, Dr Chang warned that there will be no hiding place for repeat traffic offenders under the new digitised ticketing system. He said the police will track down all delinquents and serve warrants for every unpaid ticket.

Newman told colleagues, “We have to pay our outstanding tickets by January 31. On February 1 the new system will roll in. The interest of the minister and the Cabinet is for the payments of the ticket. You won’t attract demerit points, you won’t lose your licence. Everything else is placed on the back burner; pay your traffic ticket. One good thing I gather from the presentation of Minister Chang is the fact that you can go to court with your lawyer if you want,” he said, arguing that the Government’s interest is in its revenue and not the issues affecting the sector.

Meanwhile, TODSS’s Director of Training and Development Christopher Williams encouraged managers of transport associations and operators to start building a database of proof of ticket payments, along with other related information such as records of the routes taken when tickets are issued, the main locations where they are ticketed, and the nature of offences for which tickets are issued.

“I am approaching this from a balanced perspective. Go to all the locations where there are no white lines and all yellow lines; for example, Constant Spring, and take some pictures or record the route. Present that as evidence to the National Works Agency, the mayor, and possibly the court. Take a picture of the receipt. Create a file on your smartphone for receipts and put those images there for future reference. Who is the police officer that is issuing the most tickets? What are the tickets being issued for? If you don’t do your own research, everything becomes anecdotal and will not hold up in court. Managers of associations need to start collecting data. You are saving tickets and not saving receipts when you pay. Evidence is what is held up in court even if the system is flawed,” Williams told operators.

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