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(PRESS RELEASE VIA SNO) – The N.A.D.S. (National Association of Driving Schools) is saddened by the pronouncements of Hon. Guy Joseph at the pre-cabinet press briefing on Thursday March 8th, 2018.
In this press briefing Hon. Guy Joseph, the Minister with responsibility for Transport (A portfolio which he has held cumulatively for about 7 years), purported to address the video released by N.A.D.S.
The video Highlighted the fact that in the 80’s when there were only 5 driving schools the requirement was 3 examiners, fast forward to 2018 where there are over 40 driving schools and over 60 driving instructors, we found ourselves having only 2 examiners for the entire island.
In the video, N.A.D.S. President Kingson Jean made an impassioned plea to have a third examiner instated by the end of February and to have a fourth examiner installed within a six month period. The third examiner has subsequently been approved by the Public service commission on a 9 months contract and he commenced his role on Monday May 5th, 2018. Another Issue raised in the video was the fact that N.A.D.S. was promised by Hon. Guy Joseph, that there would be quarterly meetings with him to address Driving School and road safety matters. These meetings have never materialized as efforts by N.A.D.S. to arrange these meetings with the Minister have been met with deafening silence.
In addressing the video, it was unfortunate to see the minister deflecting from these very pertinent issues, while devaluing Driving Instructors, his Ministry and His staff. Here are some of the claim made by Hon. Guy Joseph and pointed answers to them by N.A.D.S.
1. The Minister claims that Driving Instructors are not trained or professional in their business. Claiming an incident that a driving instructor was eating a plate of food while instructing a student. – We at N.A.D.S. have been conducting various training programs with our members in business practices and ethics. The Minister should know that there are many “Rogue” Driving schools out there, many without license to operate as a driving school or instruct, it would be very easy for the unprofessional demeanor which was highlighted to have been from those Rogue Driving Schools.
Also every Driving School of the association is held to a high standards and has to complete three (3) D.V.S.A (Driver and Vehicles Standards Agency) exams before they are granted a license to operate. If the Minister feels that these standards should be raised what has he done in his almost 7 year tenure as Minister of Transport to raise those Standards?
2. The Minister claimed that to obtain an endorsement to drive trucks all that is needed is for someone to pay for the endorsement. – The Minister is correct in this statement and this is something that the N.A.D.S. has been agitating the Ministry about for some time. We have received word that some form of testing is in place but is awaiting the Ministers Approval. We do hope that this approval is granted speedily as this seems to suddenly be a point of concern for the Minister, though it has not been addressed in the 7 years he has headed this ministry.
3. Lastly and most damming the Minister claims that some of the examiners at the Ministry of Transportation are not qualified. – This assertion by the Minister would imply that the Chief Transportation Officer and the Public Service Commission are inept and have jeopardized the safety of our roads by allowing unqualified persons to conduct road safety examinations. All licensed Driving Instructors would have obtained their license based on the assessment by these unqualified persons, all driver’s license holders would have obtained their licenses based on the assessment of these unqualified persons, the same can be said for all bus drivers and motorcycle riders.
In essence what Minister Hon. Guy Joseph is saying is that for 7 years as the Minister of Transportation he has sat by and knowing allowed persons who are not qualified to conduct driving and road safety exams to certify persons to drive on our roads. What does this mean for the certifications that have been given based on the assessment of these individuals? Are drivers licenses essentially worthless, as they are not a representation that we have met basic road safety standards?
Are these to be blamed for the collisions and fatalities on our roads? Should anyone who has been in a road collision or have had a family member perish in a road fatality, sue the government as they have admittedly certified road users, using unfit examiners? Based on the information available to N.A.D.S. we believe that the examiners are well trained and meet the D.V.S.A standards. Any shortcoming of these examiners we believe is as a result of an ever increasing burdensome workload.
We do implore the Minister Hon. Guy Joseph to be selective in his pronouncements as they have been unfortunate, severely wanting and could have dire consequences. As an association we are working to raise the standards of all our members and to promote road safety among all road users.
To this end we have instituted a “N.A.D.S Approved” Sticker which would be clearly displaced on all approved driving schools of the association. By doing this members of the public can know that they are conducting business with a reputable and ethical driving school. We are continuing to engage in school programs where we promote road safety to children.
In recent years we’ve used the ministry of infrastructure conference room and other such like facilities, where we’ve conducted workshops for our members using local resource persons covering ethical business practices, Hygiene, Traffic laws, financing, auto mechanics, Proper methods of instructing by D.V.S.A instructors from the U.K. In our continuing persuits of opportunities for our members to be trained we are hoping to have attend driving instructors training program in Washington DC. later this year. We would be honored if Hon. Guy Joseph would accompany out members to Washington, so he can determine first hand if our training meets his standards.
We would like to thank the members of the public for their support as well as the Chief Transport Officer, Examiners and Staff of the Ministry of Transport for their hard work.