By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
DISGRUNTLED motorists yesterday complained about the long wait times associated with the Road Traffic Department’s digital automated system registration exercise, claiming that “nothing has changed” since the “chaotic” first day of registration, despite promises by officials that it would.
Heading into day two of the registration process at the Thomas A Robinson Stadium, motorists told The Tribune that yesterday’s exercise was just as “ridiculous” as it was on Friday.
Road Traffic Controller Ross Smith admitted to The Tribune yesterday that the department was “not on top of our game” on Friday, but said it has made “some adjustments” to better accommodate the public during the entire process. Core among those adjustments, Mr Smith said, was streamlining the car inspection process, which he said affects every other stage of the process for better or for worse.
However, Mr Smith denied claims that Friday’s chaotic scene was the result of either a shortage of/or not having any license plates, inspection certificates or license discs to give out. He also denied that persons were being privately told that there would be an extra $50 charge if they wished to retain their old license plate numbers, and if that was what they wanted, although it was not time for their vehicles to be licensed, now was the time to make their wish known to keep their old number. Mr Smith denied that the Road Traffic Department was issuing new license plates.
Mr Smith said only “private license plates” are being issued, while “all the others remain the same.”
“That’s why there’s no change in their license plates really,” he said. “Because they’re retaining their numbers, and they don’t have to pay that fee because they have paid that already.
“The same thing with the title certificate. They don’t have to pay nothing. Because it’s really just the registration booklet just basically changed a bit.”
Of yesterday’s registration process, Mr Smith told The Tribune: “What we did was we took over the (car) inspection process completely. So what we did was, we now control that, we know exactly what we want. And so people are able to move in according to how they come, rather than just willy-nilly, all over the place.
“And I think that’s what really frustrated people on the first day. Because they were here early and people were jumping the line to get ahead. And so we ensured this morning that that did not happen. And moving forward we will continue to do that.”
He added: “…We were not on top of our game as we should (have been). We have put a lot more persons out so that they would be able to take care of what the customer’s needs are, and also to watch how people come in, so that to ensure that nobody again is jumping the line or jumping ahead of another person. So that allows persons to have less complaints.”
Some motorists said that yesterday’s exercise moved “very, very slow,” further charging that new technology like the one the department is implementing is “supposed to improve processes, not make processes worse.”
However, notwithstanding the ever-present queues, the wait associated with those lines seemed to be the only real problem most persons had with the system, as the process The Tribune observed was less chaotic and, at the very least, more organised than the scene this newspaper saw on Friday.
Still, Nicole Williams told The Tribune of her frustration with waiting some two hours just to get to the final stages of the registration process, despite showing up at 7:35am.
“We’ve been out here and standing and waiting, and it should be a process where you walk in, you get your papers, and you walk out,” she said. “We’ve been on this line for two and a half hours now and it’s ridiculous. We need to get some help down here for these people.”
Another man, who wished not to be named, told The Tribune that yesterday’s process was “real chaotic”.
“Seems like everybody don’t know what’s happening,” he said. “Seeing that we’re going on a new programme or a new system, I was thinking maybe even if they did give it to you like A,B,C, and D today and then continue on through alphabetical order instead of having the whole of October here one time. Because we’re going back to the old days where everybody mumble jumble up at the end of the month. It’s just frustrating. I hope they get it worked out by now and the next time around.”
Carl Culmer, who said he was present at the stadium since shortly after 7am, said yesterday’s exercise highlights the need for the department to seriously look at “process management.”
“…My thing is, I know what technology can do to improve processes,” he said. “I think we need to look at how we can improve the process. The process I think is flawed. I think they’re trying to do something to eliminate fraud, but you could accomplish that in another way.”
The RTD’s $8m automated system eliminates handwritten vehicle information discs, in a bid to streamline the licensing and registration processes. The new electronic system is expected to make it easier for persons to license their vehicles and put an end to having to register the same vehicle every year.