The new regime will standardise the issuing of warrants across the island and mechanics will now have to be licensed in order to grant them.
In order to be granted the license, they will have to make an application to the Cook Islands Police Service and will then have to meet specific requirements as set out in the new guidelines.
Once they are approved, they will then have to comply with a standard checklist of vehicle requirements aimed at preventing any variances in WOF checks across the island.
Police Inspector John Strickland says the big picture is about safety and standardising everything to make sure that all vehicles are actually roadworthy.
He says the decision to look at the issues of vehicle testing and safety was made in 2010 by the Commissioner of Police and after a few delays it is now falling into place.
Following a meeting involving police representatives and vehicle mechanics, seven people were nominated to form a new committee in charge of formulating and implementing the new regime.
Strickland says until now, mechanical services in the Cook Islands have been different at each workshop, with no real system in place to ensure vehicles are to the same standard.
To combat this, the committee came up with a set of criteria and fees that each
vehicle must meet to get a WOF and the same criteria will apply at every mechanic service.
Strickland says there will be no more ‘lazy’ check-ups and if people aren’t happy with one mechanic, they can no longer go to a different mechanic for an easier check-up.
For example, he says if someone goes to the Motor Centre, a mechanic will check the vehicle against the criteria police have set out and if they find faults, they will
decline a WOF.
“It’s normal for a client to get upset about this and want to go try another mechanic who will approve them, but now, any other company will go through the same criteria and the client will still be declined until they fix whatever faults they have,” Strickland says.
The criteria falls into three different categories representing motorbikes, light vehicles and heavy vehicles, similar to driving license classes.
Each class will have different criteria to address different mechanical needs.
The new system is in line with New Zealand’s own criteria, but designed to suit the environment in the Cook Islands.
“We have taken the New Zealand system and made it suitable for our population, our roads, our vehicles and our environment,” Strickland says.
Police are also cracking the whip on mechanics with a new set of criteria applied to those who want to be able to issue WOFs.
Committee members and a police representative will conduct inspections of mechanics who want a license, to ensure they are fit to issue WOFs.
Mechanics must be qualified, with the appropriate knowledge and experience to determine whether or not a vehicle is road safe.
The committee will then sit to discuss the applicants and decide who is fit to issue WOFs, and for which class of vehicles.
Some mechanics may only be approved to issue WOFs for motorbikes but not heavy vehicles.
Strickland says some mechanics who have previously issued WOFs may be declined a license and get upset, but that’s tough.
“This is what mechanics want and this is what police want and it’s all to make sure our roads are safer.”
Inspections will be conducted throughout June and the new criteria for vehicles will come into effect from the July 1 at approved mechanic services only. Every approved mechanic is required to maintain and comply with the new criteria police have set out for vehicles, every time a new WOF is issued.
Once this comes into effect on Rarotonga, police will investigate whether or not there is a need for the same regime on outer island communities.