Promoting driver's safety
Rankin Inlet man issuing driver's tests and licences, a first for the Keewatin

Jennifer Pritchett
Northern News Services

RANKIN INLET (Sep 09/98) - For the first time, Keewatin residents can get their driver's licence in their own communities.

And recently-hired Simeoni Samok is just the person to do the job.

As the region's first motor vehicles officer, he hopes his new position with the territorial Department of Transportation will encourage more Keewatin residents to get proper driver training and licensing before taking to the roads.

Before May 4, the Keewatin never had a regional motor vehicles officer, and drivers were forced to register their vehicles and obtain their driver's licence from either Iqaluit or Yellowknife.

Samok, a former member of the RCMP, sees his job as an opportunity to provide drivers with better access to both the road and written tests for licences.

By making the testing more accessible, he said more people will get their licences for both ATVs and other vehicles.

"It will be easier will encourage more people to get the proper training to drive a vehicle," he said.

Regional transportation superintendent Dawson Milley said that the new position is a step toward localizing some important government services before division.

"It's part of the co-operative effort between the GNWT and the office of the interim commissioner in preparation for Nunavut," he said.

"We'll have the motor vehicles function up and running by April 1, 1999."

Milley also said that Samok will also be trained to test heavy-equipment operators by division, a service that will be particularly useful for business owners in town who are looking for qualified operators.

He also said that the position will benefit the whole region.

"It makes for properly-training, tested and safe drivers -- better drivers," he added. "...Rankin being the second largest community in Nunavut, it's important to have a licensed examiner."

Samok hopes the new services will mean safer roads.

He'll be taking his services to the communities over the coming weeks when he visits Arviat and Baker Lake to test a couple dozen new drivers.