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Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi addresses members of the media at yesterday’s press conference

As citizens demand that the government clampdown on PH taxis and bogus license plates, Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi says Cabinet will discuss the rollout of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) vehicle registration plates this week.

Since the discovery of Arima clerk, Andrea Bharatt’s body down a precipice along the Heights of Aripo last Thursday, there are daily shows of advocacy, calling on the government to do more to protect women and children. Several recent kidnappings, assaults and murders involved PH taxis, stolen vehicles and false registration plates.

However, Al-Rawi told Guardian Media that the government began work to make transportation safer two years ago. He said while news about legislation is boring to many people, these issues get attention whenever there is a tragedy.

“I want to take this opportunity to respectfully remind you that all of this has been an entity already. The RFID tags, we have been talking about this for two years now. The government intends to replace every single number plate in T&T and substitute it with RFID tags, which the government will issue at government centres. This tag automatically ties into the amendments we made to the Motorvehicle and Road Traffic Act and the implementation of the Demerit Points System,” Al-Rawi said.

He said both Minister of Works and Transport Rohan Sinanan and Ministers of National Security Stuart Young would bring the matter to Cabinet.

Al-Rawi said addressing the problem of PH taxis is also part of the system. He said it required digital records, digital application forms, the Demerit Points System and other measures, which the government completed. He assured the next phase was the implementation of the RFID plates.

“It is a large project calculated in full form, the tendering and methodology is being born and led by the Ministry of Works and Transport, and we are very far ahead. I realised that people find this stuff boring, but look back at 2018. It is not a knee jerk reaction; it has been a dedicated reform exercise.”

He said the government would change the entire transportation system. It includes taxis, maxi- taxis, the incoming chequered band maxi-taxis for rural areas, the Public Transportation Service Corporation, fleet car rentals and PH taxis.

He referred to PH as Part-time Hire. He said there is a way to regularise Part-Time taxi drivers as opposed to those who are Private-Hire. The changes will include a full registration system that ties into the Police Service database.

He said the State is consulting with several entities and will soon bring the resulting legislation.

Al-Rawi added that while many have been complaining about the judicial system efforts to improve it have been underway.

“When people talk about fixing the system, since 2016, we have been hard at work on that. None of this is new. Our systems are well advanced. What we need right now is if you see something, say something.

“We need to protect our witnesses because you cannot have a trial without witnesses. We need tighter law and all of those latter aspects are being blocked by one person only, Kamla Persad-Bissessar. When I said each person has to do their part, I am talking, especially, to the Opposition Leader who stands in the way of protecting witnesses.”

New petition to ban criminals from driving vehicles

There is another online petition calling for a change in the wake of Bharatt’s murder. Started on Friday by Security and Survival Management, the petitioner addressed it to Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi and Minister of Works and Transport Rohan Sinanan.

The petition asks for legislation to revoke the Driver’s Permit of anyone found guilty or awaiting trial for any violent crime, including those criminals used a vehicle and firearm for drug transportation, sexual assault and cruelty against animals.

The petition states that legislation can immediately purge the transportation sector of the criminals who prey on women.

The petition states that it is within the government’s power to make these changes within 100 days.