Vehicle licensing changes suggested

Complaints Commissioner John Epp submitted a report to the Cayman Islands Government 18 February recommending four operational changes to the Department of Vehicle Licensing.

His recommendations included allowing new-car dealerships to conduct inspections on new cars on a permanent basis, having a branch office of the Department of Vehicle Licensing east of Grand Harbour, having a vehicle inspecting facility east of Grand Harbour.

Another recommendation was for Government to ensure that it has the right to repair and clean any leased office spaces damaged in a storm and then deduct the cost from rental payments.

The report was conducted beginning 1 November, 2004, as an investigation by Mr. Epp after he had received reports of long delays at the Department of Vehicle Licensing.

Mr. Epp noted that by late October, 2004, lines at the George Town office of the Department of Vehicle Licensing, the only office opened at the time, were extremely long.

‘People seeking to comply with the vehicles licensing law were having to wait in line for approximately three hours to have their application processed,’ Mr. Epp wrote in the report.

‘The line-up at the central George Town office on Friday 29 October and Monday 1 November, extended beyond the interior area of the office across the face of the building onto the lawn for approximately 30 feet.’

After meeting with the Director of Vehicle Licensing David Dixon, several changes were made, including the expeditious reopening of the Walkers Road and West Bay vehicle licensing offices.

Part of the problem with reopening the two other sites is that they were rented.

Although exterior repairs were completed by the latter part of October, Mr. Dixon felt the landlord had not taken the steps needed to complete the restoration of the buildings and offices, and had no immediate plans to do so.

Mr. Epp said a provision in the lease allowing the Vehicle Licensing Department to complete the restoration to the Walkers Road office and then deduct the cost of doing so from the rent was beneficial.

From its exclusion in the report and subsequent recommendation, the West Bay office might not have had the same provision in the lease.

With the surge of new vehicles shipped to the island to replace those destroyed in Hurricane Ivan, the number of daily vehicle inspections has soared, with an average of 136 per day in November, and 140 per day in December and January.

On 7 February, a single-day record 226 vehicles were inspected.

To address the problem, Mr. Dixon appointed, on an interim basis, several car dealers as vehicle inspectors for new cars

Mr. Epp noted that dealerships normally inspect new cars in-house anyway as a measure of quality control, so it is appropriate to do the inspection mandated by Cayman Islands law at the same time.

Having dealerships conduct inspections would take some of the burden of vehicle inspections away from the Department.

‘The Department should continue, on a permanent basis, the interim policy of having new cars inspected for roadworthiness at new car dealerships,’ he stated.

Mr. Epp also noted the significant development east of George Town and the fact that there is no inspection facility for used vehicles in the Eastern districts.

‘The Department should now appoint qualified people at repair stations located east of Grand Harbour to conduct used-vehicle inspections,’ he recommended.

In addition, Mr. Epp also noted that there is no branch office of Vehicle Licensing Department in the Eastern districts.

As a result, Mr. Epp said the Department should open a location east of Grand Harbour in the near future.

‘A convenient location might be in Bodden Town, where government owns land that is suitable for this purpose,’ he wrote.

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