George questions whether THA can exercise supervisory control over Licensing Officers

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George questions whether THA can exercise supervisory control over Licensing Officers

Head of the Tobago Business Chamber, Martin George, has raised some questions, after the Chief Secretary of the Tobago House of Assembly, Farley Augustine, stated that Licensing Officers terrorized Tobagonians over the weekend, issuing hundreds of tickets motorists.

In a social media post, George asked: Can the THA exercise Supervisory control and overarching Jurisdiction over the Licensing Officers who have allegedly been acting oppressively and in a heavy-handed manner towards the motoring public in Tobago?
As always we should look to and rely on the Law for guidance.

George, an attorney, said the THA ACT CHAP : 25:03 of the Laws of Trinidad & Tobago provides at s. 25 as follows -:
25. (1) Without prejudice to section 75(1) of the Constitution, the Assembly shall, in relation to Tobago, be responsible for the formulation and implementation of policy in respect of the matters set out in the Fifth Schedule.

He said two significant areas under the control of the THA as per the Fifth Schedule, are (I) Licensing and (ii) Highways & Roads.

George noted that if the THA is in control of “Licensing” and “Highways & Roads”, can Licensing Officers just turn up and swoop down on the motoring public in Tobago without the THA being able to do anything about it?

“Or is it that the THA can flex its Legal & Legislative muscles and say, “No you can’t do that in the oppressive manner you’re going about it with”.

“Can the THA say, “We have control over Licensing and Highways & Roads, so we will set the policy as to how you, the Licensing Officers, enforce and carry about these functions of ensuring road safety in relation to the motoring public in Tobago”.

The THA Act at s. 25, goes on to say -: (2) For the better performance of its functions, the Assembly is hereby empowered to do all such acts and take all such steps as may be necessary for, or incidental to the exercise of its powers or for the discharge of its duties……

George said “Are there steps which the THA can take to curb the over-enthusiasm and extra-zealousness of these Licensing Officers? ”

(3) Where a statutory authority or a State enterprise provides services in Tobago, that authority or enterprise shall, in exercising its duties in relation to those services, act in accordance with the policies or programmes of the Assembly and to this end may enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Assembly. Can this above section apply to the Licensing Division of the Ministry of Works & Transport?

George also asked: Does the Licensing Division have a duty to act in accordance with the policies or programmes of the Tobago House of Assembly?

In that case, he said, can the THA exercise Supervisory control or overarching Jurisdiction over these Licensing Officers?

George said this is something to think about.

“If the THA has this ability to exercise such Jurisdictional control, it may be worth exploring the legal ambit within which it can do so, for the good of Tobago.
The THA can test the limits of the Law in this regard.

He said the THA can seek to intervene and insist that these Licensing Officers do their jobs in a humane, reasonable and practical manner, while still ensuring that motorists and road users comply with the Licensing Officers and the Laws and Rules governing road usage and maintaining practical safety precautions for the motoring public in Tobago.

“The THA however may be able to set the policy to mandate that this must all be done in a fair, equitable, reasonable and practical manner without being overly oppressive and vindictively punitive to the motoring public in Tobago.
This can possibly produce a win-win situation for all.