most Jamaican drivers possess general driver’s licenses

So,

according to a story in today’s Gleaner, apparently most Jamaicam drivers …. something like 436000 out of 514 935 have general licenses. That’s 80%

*pause while you stop to consider the many people you know who can’t drive, can’t park, can’t overtake, can’t reverse straight, and have no clue about the mechanics of their cars* <—seems like more than 20% of the people you either know or have encountered on the road doesn’t it?

onwards.

So this fact threw up some red flags to the parliaments public accounts committee <—no doubt the irony of the numerous general licenses was driven home as they made their way to the committee meeting and were cut off or got some bad bad drive from several people.

Rosalee Brown of the Internal Revenue Department rushed to the defense of her unit<–real passa passa

flinging blame pointing out that they simply issues licenses in keeping with the competencies issues by the Island Traffic Authority.

*insert shade here*

“So whether or not they were properly issued, we just have to deal with what we get from the ITA and issue the licences as required by them,” Brown told the committee.

aka….a nuh my fault yu nuh have control a di people dem down a examination depot!

and there was a call for the ITA to shed light on the issue <—with some Cuban light bulbs perhaps

moving on

what this article and indeed this disagreement and the public accounts committee that made this discovery fails to address (or address very indirectly, perhaps with good reason) is the fact that its neither the competency nor issuing that’s the problem but rather the ease with which licenses can be bought.

The going rates right now for a general license ranges from about $14,000 to $20,000 depending on the bandoolooist facilitator.

In fact, especially in the West of the island, it is almost expected that you will buy the license. I have heard tales of a woman returning 3 times to take the driving test and being wrongfully failed each time until the examiner finally asked her why she was so hard to herself, and to them, if she didn’t want them to eat a likkle food, why doesn’t she just buy the license?

In montego bay where scammers, sponge bobs and king fish are plenty <–the latter two being car types for those who still bother with terms like ‘toyota corolla’

the license for sale business flourishes. The chart flows kind of like this

young man with no money and little ambition happens upon scamming (calling people overseas to tell them they’ve won millions of dollars in a lottery they didn’t ente,r but that they must send a processing fee to receive the money)

young man suddenly has large disposable income and no inclination to beg drive or take bus

young man buys motor car and kits it out with rims, spoiler, midnight black tint etc etc etc

young man drives car for about two weeks (on the public roads) for practice

young man creates several accidents and avoids prosecution through bribery or threats

*please note the young man still has no license*

young man is stopped repeatedly by police who recognise the car type and profile and know they’re in for a big pay day

young man in a bid to pay less bribe money decides to make it easier for himself by at least having a license…that way he will only have to pay his way out of wreckless driving or drunken driving etc

young man purchases license

young man lives happily ever after ….for a time.

now,  Ronnie Thwaites is calling for mandatory retesting of drivers to weed out the incompetent ones, along with a more mechanical hands on version of the exam, which should be more difficult to fake.

In theory this could work

however, if the same ITA staff who are flouting the rules of the existing exam are still present it won’t change a thing.

They don’t really care whether you know what that part of the car does, or what it means when it starts making a knocking sound

what they care about is when they’ll get their share of the 14 grand you’re laying out.

so, much in the same way they they’ll allow a person in an automatic car to do a hill start and then soothe their conscience by saying ‘that’s a manual car right’

that person will watch you incorrectly identify and explain the function of several different parts while happily ticking correct on their little note pad and collecting their money

if anything this move to retest, coupled with no change of staff (actually what would be required is a change in the mind set of Jamaican people who feel there should always be a way around any system, and that they’re not subject to the same rules as everyone else)

but if anything this decision to make retesting mandatory will just result in a financial boom for the members of the ITA who sell licenses and the people who fail out have to repurchase in bulk.

so, while this little fracas and blame game is amusing, it won’t really achieve much unless some drastic and unpopular steps are taken to nip the problem where it starts. right out there in the examination yard.

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