“The main office for the MVA will be in Frederick Settlement, Caroni. It is currently under construction and will be delivered around June. All administration personnel would be based there and we would have what is known as access centres (where) vehicle inspections, driver training, et cetera would take place,” said Cadiz.
Plans for a Motor Vehicle Authority were first announced by the previous administration in 2008. Cadiz explained why the projected cost has increased from “the original budgeted price of $500 million (to) upwards of about $750 million to do the entire reformation.”
“We’re going to do a complete renovation of the Wrightson Road, Port-of-Spain office. A new building going up in Arima, rebuilding and renovation at San Fernando...and a brand new facility in Tobago, which would be a full access centre.”
The Transport Ministry is also going to record what Cadiz described as the “DNA” of imported vehicles as they arrive on the nation’s ports.
“We will take the ‘DNA’ of the cars as they arrive — serial number, chassis number, type, colour, et cetera. It’s really going to make a huge difference as to what we know at the Licensing Office.”
Cadiz also spoke about plans to replace the “ageing Tobago ferries” with new ones powered by Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) because the current ferries are powered by diesel, which costs an estimated $100 million a year versus an estimated $10 million a year for LNG. “If you can save $90 million - $95 million a year by using gas (LNG), that is the way to go.”
Cadiz said his ministry would be paying close attention to the outcome of Argentina’s plan to convert its ferry to LNG this February.
“Once we see the records on whether it’s successful or not, we would go to Argentina to talk to the operators of the ferry about how well it performs. Because it’s not just a case of switching fuels. There are other considerations that would have to be met, including a whole different staffing for a new type of fuel.”
This would require purchasing new Tobago ferries but Cadiz said purchasing new vehicles would need to take place whether or not the LNG plan goes ahead because “the current vessels are coming to the end of their useful life anyhow. The delivery on new vessels is roughly 24 months, so we need to be planning that right now.”
On the issue of whether some San Fernando/Chaguanas taxis should be allowed to charge $12 instead of the set rate of $10, Cadiz told reporters the matter “is being talked about at the Ministry of Works, which is responsible for the taxi stands.”
However he said there was little the Transport Ministry could do because “If taxi drivers want to argue over $2, I really and truly can’t help them all that much. I would leave the public to decide the fare they would be willing to pay.”