Categorized | Featured, National News

Gov’t Clamps Down On Derelict Vehicles

The government is clamping down on the number of derelict and abandoned vehicles in the country in hopes of recouping the exorbitant costs of dealing with the problem.

Removing derelict vehicles comes at quite a cost to taxpayers.

Each vehicle is removed at a cost of $60.

According to Environment Minister, Kenred Dorsett, some 1,000 vehicles have been removed this fiscal year alone.

However the minister acknowledged that these cars did not just appear out of nowhere, but are owned by people who, for whatever reason, have shirked their responsibility to see to their proper disposal.

“In some cases, you find that cars become derelict because the owner cannot afford the need repairs or because it was involved in an accident and the damage was too severe to be fixed,” the minister said. “There are also cases where you find persons are conducting auto body and or mechanic work from their homes where cars are kept on or near their residential premises.”

There is also the fact that these types of vehicles are sometimes used as breeding grounds for rodents, mosquitoes and other pests; not to mention a place where criminals hide illegal firearms and drugs.

Urban Renewal alone has identified approximately 2,500 derelict vehicles in the inner city communities while the DEHS has advised that more than 5,000 such vehicles have been sighted throughout New Providence.

“When we add our unlicensed/unregulated mechanic and body shop yards, I am certain the numbers would be even higher,” Mr. Dorsett said.

The minister’s comments came while leading debate on proposed amendments to the Derelict Motor Vehicles (Disposal) law; amendments that are meant to enable the government to move more swiftly to address an issue that poses a danger to public health and safety.

“This is a very important addition as it would ensure that the director has that power to act immediately when faced with a public health issue. It will also lessen the time in which a person has to remove a vehicle after notice is given from a period of two weeks to one [week],” Minister Dorsett said in the House of Assembly on Wednesday.

“It also reduces the time that an owner has to claim their vehicle from 28 days to 10 days…For abandoned vehicles that bear a valid current license under the Road Traffic Act, the Director of DEHS, during the 10-day period, shall post on the government website or at DEHS and advertise in at least two newspapers the intention to dispose of the vehicle if it is not claimed and removed within the period specified.”

The amendments also speak to the illegal use of land – not sanctioned by the Planning and Subdivisions Act – for the storage of abandoned or derelict vehicles, a trend the minister said is becoming popular.

“The director will have the power to serve notice for the removal of such vehicles. It should be noted that the fines – should we agree – will be increased from $80 to $500 with an $80 per day charge for as long as the offense continues. This is to demonstrate that we are serious about this issue and in the reduction in occurrences,” Minister Dorsett explained.

“The amendment also empowers the director to immediately remove and dispose of a derelict vehicle, where it represents a grave or imminent danger to public health and safety.”

It is also the government’s plan to relocate its derelict vehicle site on Marshall Road to a tract of land near the Harrold Road landfill.

“The Ministry of Works has prepared plans for the new derelict vehicle site and provided an estimate of costs. My ministry is now in the process of making submissions to [Ministry of] Finance for the funding to enable us to relocate the derelict vehicle site in the next budget 2014/2015,” he said.

But according to Montagu MP, Richard Lightbourn, amending the law is one thing, but there is a need to address the “real issue.

“Until we get to the point where the government is going to get serious about enforcing the law, it’s a waste of time. What difference does it make if you give the man seven days to move his car as opposed to 14? He didn’t move it in 14 days what makes you think, he’d move it in seven,” he pointed out.

“So really we need to start addressing the real issue – enforcement of the law,” Mr. Lightbourn said.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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