Dear Editor,

In response to a letter titled “Dissatisfied with the appointment system” published on September 10, I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the concerns raised by the author as they relate to the scheduling of appointments at the licensing division. As a nation, we are currently navigating a unique situation which calls for the implementation of innovative solutions and a shift from the traditional way we conduct business.

As you may be aware, to ensure the continued operation of this division, the ministry established an appointment system offering particular services on specific days. This solution arose out of our efforts to manage and adapt to the volume of customers in a situation of reduced capacity to deliver regular service as a result of COVID-19 restrictions.

While there have been complaints regarding the appointment system, based on best practice queueing guidelines, we can only schedule a minimal number of appointments per day.

Over the period June 1, to September 1, we have observed some rather interesting statistics in the area of Driver’s Permit Transactions.

June 1-September 1, 2020,

A(First Issue) 3,310

B (Renewal) 33,829

C (Duplicate) 2,218

D (Endorsement) 998

TOTAL 40,355

June 1 – September 1, 2019

A (First Issue) 4,642

B (Renewal) 13,439

C (Duplicate) 3,170

D (Endorsement) 976

TOTAL 22,227

June 1 – September 1, 2018

A (First Issue) 4,422

B (Renewal) 22,464

C (Duplicate) 3,414

D (Endorsement) 1,095

TOTAL 31,395.

The figures show a staggering increase in total transactions between 2019 and 2020, coupled with a continued demand for services. In spite of this reality, let me assure you that the Licensing Division is committed to making adjustments along the way until we reach a comfortable state that satisfies all entities.

I would like to refute the author’s highly inaccurate claim that there are currently no available dates for renewal transactions. At the Licensing Division, we have recognised that persons are unwilling to book appointments at other sites if their preferred location is unavailable.

Members of the general public are therefore encouraged to utilise all booking options for appointments at offices nationwide.

To assist with the demand for increased licensing transactions, the ministry has extended the validity of several vital licensing documents.

Driving Permits, taxi driver licences/badges, certificates, vehicle transfers and other documents, which expired on or before August 31, are now valid until December 31. This extension removes the burden of having to schedule an immediate appointment in the absence of available dates.

As well, specific protocols for used and new car dealers have been implemented. The ministry has notified car dealers to anticipate a level of delay in vehicle registration turn around because of a 50 per cent reduction in the workforce. It is our expectation that this will be brought to the attention of their customers.

Similarly, the holders of confirmed appointments must also brace for delays due to COVID-19 health measures stipulated by the Ministry of Health.

Management and staff of the Ministry of Works and Transport have been making the necessary sacrifices to meet the current demands, in order to mitigate and minimise the delays faced by the general public.

Additionally, due to the existing digital platform we established in 2019, the ministry intends to launch a mobile service unit which will carry out scheduled visits to rural communities and villages. Citizens who reside in these communities will soon have hassle free access to services without having to travel lengthy distances to visit a Licensing Office. This unit will be fully equipped with all the necessary technological tools and consumables to allow for:

· Processing of Learner’s Permits

· Renewal of Driver’s Permits

· Regulations Test for all Drivers Permit Classes

· Renewal of Taxi Badges

· Verification and updating of Drivers’ Permit Data

· Driving Test

We all have a role to play, and I urge us to follow the guidelines stipulated by the Licensing Division as it relates to the operation of the appointment system.

Failure to comply with existing guidelines such as impromptu visits without appointments, not adhering to allocated time-slots, breaking appointments without cancelling and not adhering to social distancing regulations all contribute to unnecessary bottlenecks and delays in an already stressed system.

I wish to thank the public for their patience and reaffirm our commitment to providing continued service. Our primary aim is to ensure that the citizens of T&T are safe from the ravages of COVID-19 when conducting transactions at any Licensing Division.

Let us commit as a nation to thriving in this era of the “new normal.”

Minister of Works and Transport