I recently went to our licensing office in Port of Spain to transfer our vehicle of 23 years after we sold it. What a terrible waste of time that whole experience turned out to be. At the end, the vehicle was transferred but the time wasted just to do that task was horrible.
The entire time we spent there was about 5 hours, and we arrived before they were opened; there was already a line of about 20 cars waiting for transfers as well.
Licensing office is archaic; a relic that needs to be transformed. Coming into the licensing office, the first thing that you would notice is that not a desk has a computer.
In this day and age where everyone has a phone as fast as a computer, you can’t have a computer at your desk to get information? Everything it seems is on paper, in huge books, and there are people who have to peruse through these huge books to find your information.
Then it’s the process that you must follow.
- Take a form and fill it out.
- Carry the car to get inspected and give the form to the inspector. The inspector does who knows what with the form. You hope that it does not get misplaced or lost.
- You then go into the licensing office waiting area and wait for your name to be called.
- Your name is called and you and the person that you are selling the vehicle to go to a window where your details are checked along with insurance and receipt for payment.
- The person who sold the car could go at this point, while the other person has to stay and wait for his/her name to be called to go pay the cashier to finalise the transfer. And the cashier does not take credit cards or debit cards. It’s strictly cash only. Wow!
It sucks that this is a process that should take less than an hour to complete, but made horrendously longer by inefficient activities. I can’t remember how many times my hopes were raised that it was my turn to be called, only to be dashed.
Here’s how I see the process should be.
- Fill out an online form and submit it. If you don’t have Internet access, you can use a kiosk at the licensing office.
- Pay via credit card, or use a debit card at the kiosk.
- Get a number with date and time for inspection. Kiosk users could have the option to wait, or come back at a later date.
- Car is inspected on the date and time given, and details checked.
- Signed off immediately, and the car is transferred.
- Done. Go for some beers.
Total time, about one hour.
That day, there were perhaps more than a hundred people waiting to conduct some kind of transaction. How many productive hours were wasted that day, and how many are repeatedly lost every day?
I could see a project to modernise the licensing office costing between $15 – $25 million US dollars, which is nothing compared to the hours saved by the people conducting business at the office.
To me the whole episode was just a sad reminding of the third world state that we are.