Over 1.6 million individuals await smart licenses as DoTM’s mass printer malfunctions

Published On: May 23, 2024 09:30 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, May 23: Over 1.6 million individuals are still waiting to receive their smart licenses after passing their trials. This delay has been attributed to the malfunction of the mass printer of the Department of Transport Management (DoTM).

The current mass printer at the DoTM is barely operating for two shifts, whereas it previously operated in three shifts. When fully operational, the machine can print 8,000 cards in 16 hours with all four encodings running. Currently, only two encodings are functional, each printing 125 cards per hour, resulting in a total of 2,650 cards printed daily in two shifts. Additionally, around 400 priority licenses are printed daily.

The printer, purchased on August 18, 2019, was initially running at full capacity. However, due to technical failures, it can no longer operate for three shifts. It now takes 400 days (about 14 months) to print 1.2 million new cards. The printer is also inactive on government holidays and Saturdays.

According to a DoTM engineer, the machine’s two non-functional encodings need repair, but the department lacks the budget to address this issue. Ishwari Datta Paneru, the DoTM director, confirmed that only 2,500-3,000 cards are currently being printed per day, with employees working in two shifts.

Paneru said that the DoTM has completed printing 50,000 out of 1.2 million new smart cards within 6 and a half months. If the machine had been fully operational, over 1.2 million cards could have been printed and distributed by now.

Although the DoTM has not yet distributed the printed cards, Paneru stated that the distribution will begin soon. The first batch of cards is planned to be sent to the Sudurpaschim and Karnali provinces in December 2023, followed by other provinces.

The DoTM delayed distribution as they awaited lab test reports for the newly printed cards. The report, tested by Germany's Fogra Company, arrived on May 13 and was reviewed by the DoTM after four days. A total of 150 cards were sent for testing. 

Uddhab Prasad Rijal, the Director General of DoTM, stated that the test reports met all conditions set by the DoTM. The cards were tested for quality, waterproofing, and other factors, and were found to exceed expectations.

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