Police have described the failure of business to renew their WOF issuing licences as “appalling”, while Road Safety Council president Brent Fisher says the Cook Islands Police Service is just trying to shift the blame for their own failure to communicate with both the council and the committee.
The Warrant of Fitness Committee was initially established in 2015 to ensure all testing stations in Rarotonga met the required standards in issuing warrants.
Committee member and local business owner, Eric Short says numerous attempts were made by the committee to regain their authority to certify testing stations. However, he says Police Inspector John Strickland refused to communicate with the committee, effectively leaving in limbo for over three years.
In July 2015 the police granted the committee a year-long licence to inspect all testing stations, their equipment, and employees to ensure that the correct standards were maintained. However, the WOF committee has not been recertified since the expiration of its licence in July 2016.
Following the coverage of this issue by CINews earlier this month, police began inspecting and auditing all business operators who had been licensed to issue warrants of fitness for vehicles since July 2015. They described failure of testing station operators to renew their licences as “appalling”.
However, some locals are not happy with the police shifting the blame.
Said Road Safety Council president Brent Fisher: “So the police didn’t know the licences weren’t being renewed after all that time?”
Fisher says his council has been trying to meet with the police commissioner for over a year to raise concerns about the WOF issue, amongst other things. He says his requests for a meeting have been constantly turned down.
And he claims the police appear to have been granting licences to premises which are not up to standard.
“The police aren’t mechanics, they need the input of the WOF committee, they’re the mechanics. To disband the committee without even meeting with them for over three years is patronising… the whole thing lacks any credibility.
“The board was made up of experts in this field so why fire them? Seems to me this now is just about the police collecting fees and not at all about standards, as they now have no-one from the industry to advise them”.
According to police, all 27 outlets that were authorised to issue WOFs in 2015 but failed to renew their licences, have now been given a thorough check by the police. The police claim some outlets did not have their licenses displayed on a wall and one had even altered the licencing period by crossing out 12 months and inserting five years.
Earlier this week, the police inspected Short’s premises and granted him a licence. Following this inspection, Short says he received an email from Strickland stating that the committee was no longer required and would therefore be formally dissolved last Monday afternoon.
CINews understands that the police now intend to carry out testing station inspections themselves. However, there are some doubts about whether or not the police are qualified enough to carry out such inspections.
“Really all they’re doing is following the manual which we (the WOF committee) wrote” says Short.