Last October, 2010, our newspaper reported on public complaints over the dilapidated condition of the old wooden booth that had been assigned to traffic officers who do inspections for motor vehicle licensing in the City.
Amandala learned last week that the situation has, in fact, gotten worse. Following an eviction from the Magazine Road premises where they were previously located, the traffic officers are now literally out on the street.
For over a week now, the officers have been working outdoors, from under a tent placed in front of a food shop on Johnson Street, beside Constitution Park and in the vicinity of Matron Roberts Health Center.
When we conveyed the public concerns last year to councilor for traffic with the Belize City Council, Dean Samuels, he told us that he realizes that the working environment of the officers needs attention, but he had put a proposal to the Ministry of Local Government for a comprehensive vehicle testing facility.
Samuels told Amandala today that things have not been progressing speedily enough, and that another booth is under construction in the meantime.
Interestingly, when we called Samuels today, he told our newspaper that he was not aware that the traffic officers were outdoors and expressed surprise when he was informed by traffic department staff that it is going on two weeks now that officers have been processing paperwork for drivers outdoors.
The Ministry of Education had advised traffic since last year that they had to find a new location, because the premises, a former bus terminal, needs to be available for educational youth programs.
Before they moved there, to Magazine Road, the traffic officers were posted on Princess Margaret Drive, just outside the Marion Jones Sporting Complex, which has been undergoing a multi-million-dollar overhaul.
Last October, Samuels confessed that it is embarrassing that the biggest municipality is offering those kinds of services, and that people should be in comfort and have their vehicle tested professionally, and get their license without having to worry about getting wet in the rain.
Regrettably, the situation has since deteriorated.
Samuels said that the Ministry of Local Government has the proposals for the upgrade, which would also include new fees for services.
When we asked for a timeline when the traffic officers would get the much needed indoor facilities, he said he could not say at the moment.
He told us that the Council did explore the option of going back to Pound Yard, but the Hotchandanis wanted $10,000 a month from CitCo.
Councilor Samuels said that they are looking for a permanent location for the traffic department to conduct proper vehicle inspections.
Another option for a permanent location, said Samuels, is the open lot adjacent to the Belize Tourism Board on Regent Street. Amandala