For the past two years, Hemraj Rahim’s life has been on hold as he tries desperately to get answers from the Licensing Authority about the registration of his vehicle.
Rahim, 42, from KP Lands in Valencia was working as a taxi driver in January 2018 when the company insuring his Nissan B13 requested the computerised version of the car’s certified copy for renewal.
Rahim visited the Licensing Authority’s Caroni office where he made an application.
But when the clerk processing that request checked the Authority’s database, Rahim’s car was seen registered in a woman’s name.
He was told it could be a clerical error and sent to the Authority’s Port-of-Spain office.
There, he was told none of his documents since he transferred the vehicle into his name in 2003 could be found. Instead, the woman’s name was listed as the registered owner from August 2013 onwards.
“They said they couldn’t tell me anything else but one of the clerks write the woman name and address on one of my papers by mistake and I went to her home looking for her. I didn’t find her and then I went to her workplace…when I was leaving Chaguanas, I spotted the car and stopped,” Rahim said.
He said the car, also a Nissan B13 bore the same registration of his vehicle before he converted it to ‘H’ in 2003 to ply his trade as a taxi driver.
“While I was watching the car, the woman came out and met me. She told me she had only bought that car a few months before and didn’t have any idea there were issues with the registration. I called the police, they came and said both vehicles would be seized.”
Rahim was confident that his vehicle was the legitimate one- as he said he had been doing transactions at the Licensing Authority for years.
“I did the transfer in 2003, then weeks later I changed it from ‘P’ to ‘H.’ I did colour change, engine change notifications…everything the right way,” he said, laying out a series of faded but still legible receipts.
But Rahim said when a forensic investigation was done, he was told his car would only be returned to him if he agreed to sell it for scrap parts.
“They make me sign for it in the police station and only then, they give me it back. I can’t drive it at all…it sit down here rotting down. A man tell me he will give me $5,000 for it,” Rahim said.
And while Rahim searches for answers, he said he was struggling to provide for his wife and two daughters.
“I selling fish on the side of the road a few days for the week…but the other day I gone out and after ice and the cost of the fish, I make $58…..I can’t make anymore.”
With tears in his eyes, Rahim said all he wants is an opportunity to return to the road so he can once again take care of his family.
“I just want justice, I want back my car on the road, and you see all what they put me through, I just want something fair, because if that car was working, I don’t know how much money I would have worked for, but I wouldn’t have to be begging,” he said.
He said he has tried hiring an attorney to take legal action against the authority but he could not afford the fees.
Guardian Media contacted Transport Commissioner Clive Clarke who said he would reserve comment on the situation.