Puerto Rico Corrections Dept to Restart License Plate Production
SAN JUAN – The Puerto Rico Corrections & Rehabilitation Department expects in the next few days to restart manufacturing vehicle license plates, which had ground to a halt in the aftermath of Hurricane María, which took down the electric grid, and was having an impact on car sales across the island.
Erik Rolón, secretary of the department, told Caribbean Business the license plates are manufactured at the Bayamón 501 prison, which has enough electrical power to light the facility and hallways.
“The machine to make the plates is large,” he said.
FEMA was alerted about the situation, which already approved a generator to power the machine to produce the license plates—with the condition that Corrections would pay for the fuel to run it.
“We have materials to make some 60,000 plates, and will possibly have them [ready] in one week,” Rolón said.
The last pallets of license plates were provided before Hurricane María hit the island some three weeks ago.
Carlos Contreras, director of the Transportation & Public Works Department (DTOP by it Spanish acronym), recently warned about possible shortages of the plates. DTOP pays Corrections to have inmates make the plates and provides them the materials.
However, Rolón said the government has the tools to establish provisional measures in the absence of plates, if necessary. Apparently, however, those measures were not implemented.
Alberto Martínez, finance director of Alberic Colón in Bayamón, argued that although initially the dealership could get plates, there currently are none.
“We have not been able to get any. If there aren’t any plates, you can’t deliver passenger cars or commercial vehicles,” he explained, adding that this situation could bring sales to a halt.
Car dealership representatives in Carolina agreed.
“You can make a sale but you can’t deliver the car,” said a representative from a car dealership on 65th Infantry Avenue, who preferred to remain anonymous.