Abaco, along with other islands in The Bahamas, is experiencing a shortage on vehicle license plates at the Road Traffic Department which is preventing persons with new vehicles from being able to license them.
Road Traffic Department Controller Ross Smith said that they are working with the agency responsible to have the plates shipped before the end of the week.
Mr. Smith said that another Government agency is responsible for the production of license plates. “We are aware of the challenges and are working to ensure that we do not continue to disadvantage the public,” he said.
“In addition, the department is also in advance planning to initiate a new process for license plates that will alleviate the present state of affairs,” he added.
The Road Traffic Department has had prior issues in 2015 when their driver’s license printer malfunctioned. In a statement made in July last year Mr. Smith said that the department had “no intention” of correcting any existing issues with its printers in Abaco adding that there is no need to fix equipment that the department had no plans to use moving forward.
He said that the Department is making progress in automating their services with the expectation for them to be fully automated by July 2016.
Mr. Smith said the department will introduce centralized printing where people attempting to get licenses would still have to complete all the necessary written forms at their local Road Traffic office, but all printing would be done at one central location.
“Most jurisdictions have already adopted this system,” said Mr. Smith. “It seems that we are the only ones still printing in a number of places.
Meanwhile, regarding that provision Mr. Smith said the department’s office in New Providence will print licenses during the evening and dispatch those documents the next morning via couriers and Bahamasair – for Family Island cases
At the beginning of December Mrs. Glenys Hanna Martin, Minister of Aviation and Transport addressed the issue of the license plate shortage, noting it has been a recurring issue in the past.
“We are actively, myself in conjunction with the Minister of National Security and the Minister of Works, considering a new paradigm for the production of license plates. It’s not been finalized as yet but I believe that very soon we are going to have a policy decision,” said Mrs. Hanna Martin.
“The machine keeps breaking down and they run out of plates, and when people attempt to license their vehicles they have no plates. This is a chronic issue and we are seeking to address the production of plates. The actual system is going to take us from night to day. We are going to have to be in night for a while before we can get to day.”
Mrs. Hanna Martin said reform of the Road Traffic Department was moving forward, with what she described as some “quick wins” expected in 2016.
“The process right now is by and large manual, as opposed to an automated system.
This is going to radically transform the department and bring a level of order that we don’t currently have,” said Mrs. Hanna Martin.
She added that changes to the issuance of driver’s licenses are expected to begin next July, with the modernization of the system expected by next November.
“We are building in the new system security features for the driver’s license, for the plates, and also for the certificate of registration,” she added.