A December 28 internal memo by the Department of Transport’s traffic section, which was leaked today, confirmed what many motorists suspected all along: enforcement officers are required to meet a monthly quota of tickets. The memo has informed the enforcement officers that they are now obligated to issue a minimum of forty-four traffic violation tickets monthly. Now that the document is public, it is causing quite a stir. That’s because many believe the move will encourage officers to write faulty or false reports. But according to the Minister of Public Utilities, Rodwell Ferguson the decision was made to ensure the ministry turns over a profit and saves lives.
Rodwell Ferguson, Minister of Public Utilities and Logistics: “You know we are a government of laws. We go to the National Assembly and we implement laws and then we have to make sure that we abide by those laws. Over the last three months there has been a number of traffic accidents in the country and they were fatal so our department is responsible to mitigate and reduce these traffic accidents. I think we technically have about 39 traffic officers across the country and their job is to make sure that they check vehicles properly to see who are violating these laws. And so we had to put a structure in place because when people talk about 44 it’s about 2 ½ tickets per day. So if I’m paying you to get the job done then we expect you to bring in some responses. And just for those vehicles will be out there every day it’s a cost, we have to pay the traffic officers so we are trying to tell them get this part of the work done and we are going to maybe help or save lives because if you find a violation especially a bike tire you can save a life. So that’s the purpose of the note. I think for the side of the country there’s more than 100 or 200 traffic violations everyday because many Belizeans drive without a drivers license, without insurance, and proper road safety so we have to put the something in place because like I said it’s an expense on the government to make sure these officers are out there every day and they have to provide the fuel, they have to provide the maintenance for the vehicle so we are saying then we’re giving a minimum of two per day I think that’s very reasonable. I would go further to say that I will also propose to cabinet that for every ticket that they collect there should be an incentive for them because let’s be realistic because cost of living is high, their pay is basically minimal or small so if we can give an incentive then that will give them the opportunity to say I will do my job at the best of my ability to make sure that I get my incentive at the end of the month.”