Persons board a minivan in Kingstown in June 2014. (Photo: Robertson Henry)

A lawyer says that the granting of one-year licence stickers to public service vehicles, such as minivans, allows them to avert two inspections every year, as the law dictates.

“This mendacious habit by the License Office should be halted with immediate effect. We simply cannot afford to allow financial gain to override the state’s obligation to ensure that vehicles of this nature are subjected to a second inspection, which would deem them roadworthy and thereby legally acquire a licence sticker for that period which would be a true reflection of the vehicle’s condition,” the lawyer, Grant Connell wrote in an April 3 letter to Commissioner of Police Renold Hadaway.

Connell’s letter came in the aftermath of the decision by the serious offences court to uphold no case submissions that his fellow lawyer, Israel Bruce, made on behalf of their clients, who were charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with the death of the seven students at Rock Gutter on Jan. 12, 2015.

Connell represented Ehud Myers, 67, the conductor on the minivan involved in the accident and pastor of the church that owned the vehicle.

The lawyer said that while preparing for the case, he was privy to certain documents and noticed certain procedures by the License Office in the issuing of inspection receipts to owners of public service vehicles.

The Motor Vehicle and Road Traffic Act says that public service vehicles shall be inspected twice per year.

The law says that such a vehicle shall be inspected in the fifth or sixth month of the licence year of the vehicle; and in the eleventh or twelfth month of the licence year of the vehicle “.

Connell said: The present practice of the Inland Revenue Department, in the issuing of a receipt for both inspection fees at the same time and the issuing of an annual licence sticker, overrides the duty of the owner of such vehicle to be obligated in having the second inspection done in accordance with the said Act, to ensure that vehicles of this nature are in fact roadworthy.”

Lawyer Grant Connell. (iWN file photo)

The lawyer copied to Attorney General Judith Jones-Morgan and Comptroller of Inland Revenue,  Kelvin Pompey, the letter, in which he said the  granting of such annual stickers, would “prevent the most vigilant of traffic officers from being able to decipher which vehicles have been inspected for the second half of the year, since they would be misled by the presence of an annual sticker on the front windscreen of the said vehicle, giving the indication that the vehicle has complied with the law as aforementioned”.

Connell added: “This mendacious habit by the Licence Office should be halted with immediate effect, We simply cannot afford to allow financial gain to override the state’s obligation to ensure that vehicles of this nature are subjected to a second inspection, which would deem them roadworthy and thereby legally acquire a licence sticker for that period which would be a true reflection of the vehicle’s condition.”

He suggested that half-year licence stickers be granted on the payment of the first inspection fee, thereby forcing the owner of that vehicle to comply with the law, and then be granted the licence sticker for the next six-month period.

“I trust in the not too distant future, the powers that be would examine the possibility of having a barcode system on the said stickers, which can be scanned by Traffic Officers and information with the date of inspection of the said vehicle, period for which it is licensed, the name of the insurance company under which it is covered and the expiration date of same would be revealed,” Connell said.

Seven students died when the minibus in which they and 14 other persons were travelling, careened down a steep section of road and plunged into the rough sea at Rock Gutter.

In addition to Myers, Davanan Nanton, the driver of the vehicle was charged with seven counts of involuntary manslaughter, but the court also upheld the no-case submission against him, also made at the end of a preliminary inquiry.

Connell and Bruce have called for barriers to be erected in the area where the accident took place.

In his letter to Hadaway, Connell said:

Given our landscape, we must go beyond the placing of barriers at areas such as Rock Gutter and various points throughout the land. This simple adjustment to the issuing of licence stickers as aforementioned may be another safeguard in our quest to prevent another tragedy as experienced at Rock Gutter in 2015, a day which we will forever remember as one of the darkest hours in our history.”

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