Member of Parliament for South Leeward, Nigel “Nature” Stephenson, an opposition lawmaker, has admitted to I-Witness News that he has been driving since 2010, a vehicle he knew to be unlicensed.
Stephenson told I-Witness News on Friday that he obtained the vehicle in 2009 from a used car dealer and has since paid EC$20,000 in instalments.
“The first time I bought the vehicle, it came as if it was already [licensed]. All that was done and, like the licence, everything was in place. But it was a year after, when I tried to go to get the documents to do it my own self I couldn’t get the documents,” Stephenson said.
“I infringed, I took a chance, I am not proud of it, but I just couldn’t rest down the vehicle. Several times, I asked for the documents and I was told [by the dealer] ‘License it in my name’. I really didn’t want to do that.
“I have no legitimate way of doing it. I didn’t get the document. I took a chance, it is not something that I am really not proud of,” Stephenson told I-Witness News.
The former teacher, who was elected to Parliament in December 2010, said that the vehicle has developed mechanical problems and has been off the road for about a month.
“So, in any event, I am not driving the vehicle,” he said, adding that he plans to try to sort out the problem as soon as possible.
The situation became public when Minister of Transport, Sen. Julian Francis, disclosed in Parliament in December that an opposition Member of Parliament has been driving an unlicensed vehicle since 2009.
Francis, however, did not name the MP.
“There are persons in this country who, on a daily basis, deliberately defy the government of revenue. Deliberately! And very serious, high-placed individuals; there are persons who drive their motorcars, Mr. Speaker, for months, for years, without licencing it,” he said during the debate on the Estimates of Income and Expenditure for 2015.
He referred the accident in Clare Valley where former Unity Labour Party supporter Edgar Cruickshank died on Dec. 6, 2014, after an unlicensed car crashed into the meeting.
“People are not paying their licence,” Francis said, adding that police caught 17 unlicensed vehicles in two hours in Argyle.
“Mr. Speaker, even in this House of Parliament, you have members who ain’t doing that. Even in this Parliament, from 2009 to 2014 not a single cent has been paid on their car licence and they driving it everyday,” Francis said.
In January 2010, son of Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, Storm Gonsalves, then 17 years old, had to be flown overseas for medical attention after an unlicensed motorcycle he was riding collided with a passenger van.
The young Gonsalves sustained several injuries about his body and suffered internal bleeding.