100 cars with same number
By ALEXANDER BRUZUAL and NALINEE SEELAL Wednesday, August 7 2013
OVER 100 vehicles have been ordered recalled by officials at the Licensing Office in both Port-of-Spain and San Fernando after it was discovered that the vehicles were all issued with the same license plate number.
The vehicles, both foreign used and new, are said to be from the 7200 range in the TCV and PCV series. Transport Commissioner Reuben Cato confirmed the recall saying it was nothing deliberately malicious but rather was the result of human error. He added that persons affected were contacted via the information contained in the registration documents at the authority and noted that the response from the innocent vehicle owners was good.
Cato said the affected owners were cooperating fully with the licensing department and as a result, he expects the matter to be corrected shortly. “We have already spoken to the car companies involved, both new and foreign used, and the owners who were affected. I say companies and owners because some of these vehicles registered were in fact delivered before the error was discovered. However, everyone involved is cooperating with the Licensing Authority with respect to the PCV and TCV 7200 series,” Cato said.
The Transport Commissioner emphasised that this was a situation which affected vehicles throughout the country and was not centred in any one area or any one jurisdiction. However, he did note that most of the vehicles which were registered in Southern Trinidad are still in the compounds of respective dealerships.
He said because of this, a decision has been made — in an attempt to alleviate the burden caused by the error — to allow vehicle owners registered in Port-of-Spain district to keep the license plate number they were given and for changes to be made to the duplicate plates which would have been registered in other parts of the country.
Among those companies Cato said were affected were Southern Sales Limited and Toyota, as well as a variety of foreign used car dealerships.
The Transport Commissioner also apologised for any inconveniences caused by the error.
“To those inconvenienced as a result of this mixup, I want to sincerely apologise. I want to make it clear this was not deliberate or mischievous but it was human error, and we are working towards ensuring such errors are not repeated in the future,” Cato said.
Transport Minister Chandresh Sharma yesterday said he was apprised of the situation and is satisfied it was not a malicious act.
“It was human error and has to be corrected. Such errors happen all over the world. My report is that the majority of the issue was confined to outlets in San Fernando and I have also been informed that persons affected are cooperating. So the issue ought to be resolved by the end of the week, if not, early next week,” Sharma said.
However, president of the Automotive Dealer’s Association Vishan Babwah described the situation as “unacceptable”. He said it cemented the call by the association for a drastic revamping of the Licensing Authority.
“Something like this would result in very unpleasant situations for affected persons. First you would have to experience the frustration of getting the numbers changed. Then there is the legal issue.
“Most persons would not have gotten their vehicles by paying in cash and would have taken out a loan. A lot of legal letters and mortgages would be issued with regard to the license plate provided. Now if this has to change, then these legal documents and mortgages would also have to be altered.
“These legal documents come at a cost with some legal fees being as high as $5,000 or more. Who will reimburse car owners if there is a need for new legal letters to be drafted? The Transport Commissioner needs to address these issues,” Babwah said. This issue of human error adds fuel to our call, Babwah said, for the ministry to revamp the Licensing Office as soon as possible.