When I wrote my blog post, I had just returned from a day’s road trip. It was only after posting it that I read Saturday’s papers. It was amazing that the Gleaner had an editorial on the same subject of police corruption and traffic fines, but with more pointed words. Read for yourselves.
Effective June 7, a bunch of traffic offences will be subject to higher fines. I shuddered at the thought. I’ve seen nothing to make me feel that Jamaica’s police will do more to collect money for the state. By reputation, they are regarded as well-honed eaters of food, who look to line their pockets as much as fill our national coffers.
What is the expected yield from these increases? According to the Daily Observer , about J$16 million, of a total $205 million due from higher taxes and fees.
Now, Jamaica’s finest have a reputation for trying to get lunch and dinner money from motorists. Maybe, they were sent a memo yesterday to stop this and get on with the real job they are supposed to do.
It so happens, though, that on Saturday afternoon, I was being driven back from Montego Bay, by a lady whose daughter had just been playing in the Jamaica national team golf trials. She had been really cautious, as lots of speed traps and other police patrols operate from MoBay through Mount Rosser to Kingston. So, we were driving well within the speed limit when we approached the Tru-Juice roundabout at Bog Walk. But, a police officer waved her to stop.
“Do you have any firearms in the car?” he asked. We all looked puzzled. Did we put those Howitzers in the trunk or were they still in the condo? She told him no. “Do you have a valid driver’s licence?” he then asked. She reached for her bag, but he added “You can just answer.” No, she told him, again. He let us go. I told my driver that we should have asked him how much it would be to buy a licence in case she did not have one another time. We all laughed.
What was that all about? It smelt like smelt.
If that is the kind of new policing that will reap the harvest of fines, heaven help us. The new rates have stiffer penalties for speeding:
- exceeding the speed limit by 21 mph to 30 mph, $7,500;
- exceeding the speed limit by 10 mph to 20 mph, $5,000;
- exceeding the speed limit by 31 mph or more, $10,000.
The officer never tried to issue a ticket. I guess he was lonely and wanted to chat. 😛
Were we giving signs of erratic behaviour? Who knows? Maybe, he had to make his quota of stops. Or, he was hungry.
The trouble with Jamaica, sometimes, is that we have so many people who live life full of bandoolism that when we have to do something straight it just comes out crooked.
Good luck with collecting those fines. I look forward to seeing the fiscal accounts at year-end.