ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, March 25, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 43

New driving licences: Rip behind the chip?

The issuing of new computerised driving licences touted as the panacea for many an ailment plaguing the Motor Traffic Department and set to go into operation from June, would be nothing but an expensive piece of plastic with a chip on it, critics said.

Motor Traffic Commissioner B. Wijayaratne acknowledged that the cost of each card was Rs.1340 and would be issued to the public at Rs.1750. The chip in the new licence is expected to carry such information as the blood type of the licence holder, record of traffic offences committed and all information contained in the present driving licences.

Those in the know ask who is going to feed and update all that information into those chips.

Even now driving licence applicants are required to pass a medical test, but leave alone passing it, nearly all driving schools reportedly submit bogus medical test reports on behalf of their pupils with the connivance of corrupt Department officials.

They referred to a similar rip-off on the unsuspecting public a few years ago, when driving licences with a magnetic strip allegedly containing various information was introduced, but in practice nothing practical came out of it as there was not even a single machine to read the magnetic strip. The only result was that some corrupt officials enriched themselves in the process.
Possibly with an eye on making more money with the new licences, there is a massive backlog of about 200,000 unissued licences of those who passed their driving tests during the period between June 2005 and June 2006.

Mr. Wijeyaratne, however, assured that those licences too would be issued in due course. He claimed that the backlog was due to the contract of the company issuing those licences lapsing and there being a delay of a few months till the Cabinet renewed the contract for a further period.

When asked whether it was not the intention to cancel old licences with the introduction of the new computer chip to be inserted in licences from June this year, the Commissioner said no final decision had been taken so far.

Critics charge that this is another case of officials taking the new Transport Minister for a ride. Attempts made to contact Minister Dallas Alahapperuma in this regard proved futile.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.