'LEARNER'S' RUSH HOUR

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'LEARNER'S' RUSH HOUR

'LEARNER'S' Thousands swarm tax offices before January 25 deadline

BY KEDIESHA PERRY
Observer writer

Friday, January 24, 2020

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MERIS Haughton, chief corporate communications officer at Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ), says there will be no extension to the January 25 deadline for persons wishing obtain provisional (learner's) driver's licences.

“There is no reason to extend the deadline. We are also reminding those who already have their provisional licence not to apply for a new one, because it remains valid until its expiration date. Also, those who are not yet 17, should not come in. In order to obtain the licence, one has to be at least 17. At the start of January, we were processing 500 applications per day; and on Wednesday, we processed over 5,000. Those who do not need to come in, please don't,” she told the Jamaica Observer's weekly Auto magazine yesterday.

On January 9, the TAJ announced that the process to obtain a provisional (learner) driver's licence would change after tomorrow. She noted since then, the applications have increased significantly.

The Constant Spring, Cross Roads, downtown Kingston, Spanish Town and Montego Bay offices accounted for the majority of the transactions.

The new process will see persons wishing to obtain provisional (learner's) driver's licences having to first visit any of the Island Traffic Authority (ITA) examination depots to do the multiple-choice road code test. This will apply to all applicants for permits to drive and/or operate a motor vehicle, including a motorcycle.

Where the applicant has passed the road code test, a notation will be made on the form and the information entered into a database shared between the ITA and TAJ. The application form will be returned to the applicant, in a sealed envelope, for him/her to submit it to the tax office of his/her choice, for the provisional licence to be processed. Should an applicant fail the road code test, he/she will be advised by the ITA to return on an appointed date to retake the test. Until further notice, resits will be without charge to the applicant.

The new application regime comes against the background of changes in the legislative framework under Section 23 of the Road Traffic Act, which was passed in both houses of Parliament in 2018.

Haughton said the change is geared towards promoting more efficient drivers.

“The road code test was usually done when someone was applying for a driver's licence. However, The Ministry of Transport and Mining want to ensure that people who want their learner's to also have basic knowledge of the road and the different signs,” she said.

Last year, more than 400 people died on the island's roadways.

The chief corporate communications officer said provisions were made to handle the last-minute rush.

“All our cashier stations are fully operational. They are managing quite well because we have floor managers who ensure that persons help persons with filling out the provisional licence card properly. We also have customer care representatives to write up the cards and attach the person's photograph to it, before they head to the cashier. So, we really have an effective system working with,” she told Auto.

Meanwhile, Auto spoke with two people at the Cross Roads Tax Office in Kingston, who admitted they were trying to beat the January 25 deadline to elude the road code test.

“This is not my first time applying, but I'm renewing before the new application process is implemented,” Shalonda Gordon, 20, told Auto.

Shennae Hanson, 20, echoed the same sentiments.

“It's important to have now (the licence), being at this age. I also want to escape the fact that I'd have to do a written test come January 25,” she added.


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