February 13, 2020 10:19 AM NPT
Acquiring driving license after passing the driving test should be predictable. But vast majority of applicants here have to wait for months on end to get them even though they have completed all the required processes. License distribution authorities often claim that they do the job swiftly but the reality on the ground shows a different picture. For example, Department of Transport Management (DoTM), the government authority responsible for issuing driving license, had said in December last year that all the backlog of applications for smart driving license would be cleared within a matter of four to five months. But as things stand, more than 600,000 people are still to get driving license. The DoTM has failed to clear the backlog even though the number of applicants has dropped by around 2,000 per day. That means it has managed to reduce the backlog only nominally.
This is happening despite the fact that DoTM has a new mass printer which can print 500 licenses per hour. In the past, the Department used to point to lack of training on workers to operate mass printer. But this is not the case at the moment. The failure to issue driving license on time has left some 600,000 people carrying payment slip issued by the DoTM as an alternative to driving license. This case is illustrative of how it takes months to get even the basic minimum things done in Nepal. This also indicates how the government officials care little about delivering services to the people on time.
This lethargy, however, is not limited to acquiring driving license. Whether it is about renewing your driving license or paying the vehicle taxes, the service seekers have to devote hours, sometimes even the whole day, to get things done. So much so that desperate and helpless, they end up seeking the help of middle men around the office areas who seek certain amount of money as commission for themselves and to bribe the officials. This chronic mismanagement and frustrating service delivery system has to come to an end. Perhaps the DoTM can learn a few things from Department of Passport of Foreign Ministry. Passport distribution system used to be too slow and chaotic. People would queue up for hours—some from the wee hours—to file applications and they would have to wait for days to get the passports. Now the situation has largely improved. Once service seekers approach the office with required documents, applications can be submitted within few hours and passports are issued within a week. We wonder why similar method cannot be applied in case of issuing driving license or renewing it. Why do people have to wait for months to get the vital documents like driving license? People judge the government based on how effectively authorities are delivering services. The government should direct the authorities to take measures immediately so that people do not have to wait for months to acquire what they should get within just few days.