Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 16th 2016 Contents A13
Saturday, January 16, 2016 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
GML ENTERPRISE DESK
A former temporary independent senator
intends to challenge the arbitrary process to
obtain a driver s permit after a frustrating
annual process left him fuming.
Veterinarian Dr Kriyaan Singh, 33, a paraplegic
who moves around in a wheelchair and uses
specially designed portable hand controls to
drive, vented about this experience on social
media earlier this week.
Singh s Facebook post attracted support from
other disabled people who said they had similar
experiences at the licensing authority.
Charlene Forde, president of The Trinidad
and Tobago Association for Differently-abled
Persons, said she understood Singh s plight.
She wanted to know if a licensing officer was
qualified to assess whether someone disabled
was fit to drive.
She told the GML Enterprise Desk that Singh
was in good health and she believed the law
tended to discriminate against people with dis-
"I think there is need for proper measures
to be put in place instead of guessing," she said,
"Kriyaan has been driving for seven years since
She said the organisation would support
Singh s cause and described his experience as
bordering on discrimination.
On Monday, Singh went to the San Fernando
Licensing Office, at Balisier Avenue, Pleasantville,
for the renewal of his permit.
Singh said his challenges with the licensing
authority date back to the year 2000 when he
became a paraplegic. He surrendered his driver s
permit in accordance with the Motor Vehicle
Act and applied to have his permit renewed as
directed. He said it has been an annual nightmare
getting his permit renewed.
He told the GML Enterprise Desk that when
he first went to get his permit in 2000 he was
told he needed to complete a medical exam-
ination and have it signed by a medical prac-
titioner indicating that he was fit to drive, which
he did. He also needed to have a vehicle reg-
istered in his name only, so he transferred his
mother s car to his name. His vehicle also needed
permanent hand controls, instead he said it was
outfitted with portable hand controls, which
according to him is the internationally accepted
Singh said the portable hand controls "were
approved by licensing office and I received my
driver s permit with only two restrictions on it.
1- That I can only drive automatic transmission
and 2- that I must use a vehicle fitted with
adaptor and control."
No further restrictions he said were issued
pertaining to which vehicle he was allowed to
drive. He said "the stipulation that only I was
allowed to drive the vehicle was altered to state
only I can drive the vehicle when the hand con-
trols are on. This allowed other persons to drive
it without the controls." The added restrictions
were identified on Singh s permit for the first
This also allowed him to leave his vehicle to
service and the service attendants would then
drop the vehicle back to him when complet-
ed.Last year he was told after doing an inspection
of the vehicle and driving test that he could
not renew his permit until "I had a sign painted
on the back of the vehicle stating No Hand Sig-
In response, Singh said then that he informed
the licensing officer that "this was not the law."
He said he called then Transport Commis-
sioner Reuben Cato to see whether a memo
against that practice was still in force. It was
only then that he was issued the permit with
only the initial restrictions.
On his return to the licensing office on Mon-
day, he was told he was restricted to driving
only the vehicle which he came in---PCP 9867.
Singh said he then informed the officer dealing
with his case, identified only as Mr Shaffiat,
that no such restriction had been imposed on
him for seven years and that he drove several
vehicles with portable hand controls.
He said Shaffiat told him his "file was
approved previously but was not signed off, so
he cannot do it." Singh said he then called
Transport Commissioner Wayne Richards who
informed him that he was being restricted to
the vehicle he came in and he asked whether
"he was willing to add on any vehicles I currently
Singh said Richards told him that any vehicle
which he wanted to drive must be inspected
and authorised by the licensing office as well
as the hand controls being used to ensure they
are approved and installed properly. Singh said
such a proposal "defeats the entire purpose of
having portable hand controls." Singh said his
hand controls were approved in 2007.
Singh believes because he is a person with
a disability he was not being treated equally.
He said the position of the licensing office means
that he can no longer rent a vehicle if he goes
to Tobago and he also cannot drive legally when
he goes to England as he often does, using his
T&T driver s permit.
He also wants to know what will happen
when his vehicle goes for repair and he has to
rent a vehicle.
The former temporary independent senator
who sat in the Upper House when the amend-
ments to the Motor Vehicle Act were being
debated said the "Motor Vehicle Act Chapter
48 outlines no such restrictions are to be placed
on a driver with a disability."
He said it is a "direct discrimination against
me as a person with a disability and is an unlaw-
ful violation of my constitutional rights, the
Equal Opportunity Act and the Motor Vehicle
Singh is of the view that the licensing office
has no fixed standard operating procedures for
dealing with persons with a disability applying
for permit renewals.
He said his paralysis is not changing and he
should not have to pay annually for a medical.
He told the GML Enterprise Desk, "I am no
more deteriorating in health than any person
alive who is in good health. Persons with glasses
are required to have their eyes tested every two
years since medically that is the recommended
rate of deterioration for a lens prescription, yet
they are given their permits for a full five to ten
years. This makes absolutely no sense whatso-
ever. This needs to change and was approved
in both the Lower House and the Upper House
in Parliament but still isn t law."
He wants the problem rectified as soon as
possible and is seeking legal advice. He said he
intended to "pursue legal action against the
licensing office and the motor vehicle authority
subsequent to that."
Paraplegic to challenge
laws over driver's permit
Kriyaan Singh pulls his wheelchair into his vehicle after getting into the driver's seat.
A senior officer at the licensing office told
the GML Enterprise Desk that the safety of
Singh and other road users must be put first.
The officer, who spoke on condition of
anonymity as he was not authorised to speak
to the media, said, "It is a hand control, we do
not know the safety of the device. With the
carnage on the road one needs to look at
safety. The price of one life is too much."
The officer said that Singh was well aware
of the restrictions for renewing his licence but
could not explain why the restrictions were
now printed on his permit.
The officer said the issue was bigger than
Singh because it could also affect other people
who were in a similar condition. The source
said if there was a hand-held apparatus that
can be moved from vehicle to vehicle then the
authority needed to approve the use but they
are not aware that any such universal device
The source said safety was everybody's
business and there must be a discussion on
this, but the authority cannot compromise its
position that the hand control must be
properly installed and checked for use. It
cannot be that it is used from vehicle to
SAFETY FIRST---SAYS SENIOR
Denise Saucy Wow Belfon dances
with a patron during the second
installment of the EyeSlam concert
series 2016, at Woodford Cafe,
Chaguanas, on Wednesday night.
PHOTO: EDISON BOODOOSINGH
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