Opinion: Beaucoup de black smoke

POSTED: 10/3/11 8:19 PM

The other day we were driving behind this big truck and – to borrow a couple of lines from Napa’s Michael Ferrier – we saw beaucoup beaucoup de blue smoke coming out of the exhaust. In this case, the smoke was not blue, but pitch-black; it was still a lot, it stank like hell and at times it made driving for cars behind the truck a guessing game because the emission reduced visibility to almost zero.

Like Michael Ferrier, we are always willing to help the people, so we took this picture of the truck on the Sucker Garden Road. We advise the driver, or the truck’s owner to go to Napa and to get the piston rings, the head gasket and les flacons de huile.

To continue with the Ferrier Napa-ad speak – we tell he we tell you: trucks in such appalling technical condition should not be allowed on the road.

We are always willing to help the government, so we now call on Transport Minister Franklin Meyers to examine the quality of the technical control these trucks are subjected to before they are allowed on the road. To get an idea of how these things are done and to get the message dans sa tête (we know, we know: the Napa-ad says “dans son tête,” but that is a minor grammatical error in an otherwise extremely funny commercial) we suggest a visit to our French neighbors.

In Hope Estate there is a station for what the French call with a flourish the Contrôle Technique Automobile. They have computers there, and also technicians who know what they are doing. True, the inspection is expensive, €90 (at the current rate about $120), though the last time we went there and our bank card did not work for some reason (don’t gloat – there was money in the account), the center let us off the hook for just €65 ($87.25).

The upside of this higher price is that motorists get a real evaluation of their car’s technical condition. The system at the station spits out a computer list that details everything that is wrong with a car, what has to be repaired to pass, and which repairs are left to the owner’s discretion. It also identifies the technician who conducted the control.

That makes a difference from the superficial 90-second inspection on Bush Road. The only upside is that this inspection is cheap, just $21, but there are many downsides – one of them being that some trucks allowed on our roads are an environmental hazard while others are an outright danger to other road-users.

We’d like to thank Michael Ferrier for his creative input through the Napa radio-commercial. Some readers might think that we are pleasing a customer of this newspaper but alas, Mr. Ferrier does not advertise in Today anymore ever since we brought down Public Health Minister Maria Buncamper-Molanus. But who knows, this little piece could bring about a change of heart.

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