Driving licence vendor hits speed bumpMalika Incorporated, the private company that was awarded the contract to print smart driving licences for clearing backlogs dating back to almost a year, is unlikely to complete its task on time.
Malika Incorporated, the private company that was awarded the contract to print smart driving licences for clearing backlogs dating back to almost a year, is unlikely to complete its task on time.
The Department of Transport Management, which had entrusted the company to print 500,000 digital driving licences in 45 days, said Malika had managed to print only around 45,000 cards halfway through the deadline since it began printing them last month.
Speaking to the Post, a company official, who did not wish to be identified, blamed technical glitches for its poor performance. While the original specification of the driving licence was designed for laser printing, Malika adopted thermal printing, making the design incompatible with the vendor’s printing machine.
Additionally, Malika has programmed the machine in such a way that it prints cards in sequential order, making it difficult to meet the department’s urgent requirements.
The department has prioritised issuing driving licences to students who have to travel abroad for further studies and those facing emergencies.
Explaining the glitch, a Transport Department official said, “In a batch of cards sequentially from 1 to 100, licence number 28 would have already been issued as it was an emergency requirement. Now the machine used by Malika stops and needs re-programming as soon as it completes printing card number 27.”
The department has provided offline data to Malika to prevent possible
foul play in the government records-one of the reasons for the technical glitch,
he said. “Had this been online data, it would be automatically processed and the machine would jump directly to the other serial number,” the official said.
With meagre progress achieved so far, the company is unlikely to complete its task on time.
“Malika has succeeded cracking the error and has been printing more than 10,000 cards since Sunday. However, it seems really difficult to achieve the target on time,” Hari Bhatta, one of the officials who closely monitors the printing process of the cards, told the Post. The task may finish on time if Malika staff work round the clock and there is no further technical issue, he speculated.
The department said that Madras Security Printers, a company based in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, has been working with Malika to eliminate technical issues.
The government took on board the Indian company in 2015 to supply digital licences. However, its failure to ensure adequate supplies compelled the government to seek for an alternative while also continuing its association with the Indian company.
Applicants who had completed the process to obtain a driving license in 2017 would receive cards printed by Madras while Malika is printing cards registered in the government system post-January 2018. Apart from technical issues, Malika has also failed to use 20 printing machines as announced earlier.
As of Tuesday, 15 machines have been used while the process is ongoing to add five more machines. The government had launched smart driving licenses from Bagmati zone in December 2015. The project was initiated with the grant of $25 million from the Asian Development Bank.
A number of issues including hasty expansion of digital card across the country as well as poor forecast at the time of launching it, according to the DoTM are cited for the current fiasco.
The government official added that the demand for cards was forecast at the time of launch based on the probable number of applications for new driving licences. However, officials missed adding renewals category, leading to the current mess.