New “L” Plates To Deter Private Vehicles from Providing Taxi Service

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By Elesha George

Plans are underway to institute a new vehicle registration plate that will allow the authorities to identify luxury vehicles that are used for commercial purposes.

The “L” plates will replace the “A” plates or private plates used by companies to conduct business.

Chief of Staff in the Office of the Prime Minister, Lionel Hurst identified limousines as an example of the type of vehicles that will be required to display “L” plates.

According to the Chief of Staff, those who wish to use limousines and other luxury cars to engage in picking up arriving and departing passengers will be instructed to get “L” plates.

“The Airport Authority, the Antigua and Barbuda Transport Board, the department of Tourism and the police have all been collaborating in an effort to try to dissuade those who would use “A” plates for commercial purposes,” Hurst said.

“What we’re seeing is a resurgence of especially businesses that can’t afford to pay the increased insurance that is required to engage in commercial activity and also the increase in the cost of the plate. They’re using these private plates in essence to do commercial business and that is not allowed under the law.”
He said insurance companies have already been informed of the impending change, as discussions had been ongoing prior to Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting.

A decision was also taken to “vigorously pursue those who are engaged in using “A” plates for commercial transport of visiting tourists”.

“A” plates, according to the official government website, are used for private vehicles, once labelled “P” plates, for cars, SUVs, jeeps and motorcycles. These plates do not attract the same insurance coverage as a vehicle which is used for business purposes and do not necessarily protect against the life of their passengers or property.

The Cabinet has warned motorists to “cease and desist from the illegal practice, and to procure the correct registration and insurance coverage”.

It is not clear whether drivers who continue to use private vehicles to transport visitors would be charged, but Hurst said they will be fined and ticketed.

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