Driver’s licence tests may resume only after Dashain, transport department saysHundreds of thousands of applicants and many driving instruction schools have been affected as licence application and tests have been closed since March.
The driver’s licence tests, which were halted for more than three months due to the Covid-19 lockdown, are unlikely to resume anytime soon.
The Department of Transport Management has said the tests, both written and practical, will likely resume only after the Dashain festival by October end.
Gogan Bahadur Hamal, director-general at the department, told the Post on Friday that they plan to restart the tests by October end, provided that the coronavirus pandemic situation improves by that time.
“Right now all our officials are busy in licence renewal, vehicle registration tasks and tax collection. We have months-long of backlog to deal with, so we are unable to conduct driver’s licence tests,” said Hamal.
The department resumed licence renewal, vehicle registration and tax collection works three months after a nationwide lockdown, which was imposed on March 24. The government eased the lockdown restrictions from mid-June.
Currently, all transport offices in Kathmandu Valley, including in Thulo Bhyrang, Sukedhara, Jagati and Ekantakuna, are packed with service seekers.
The department, which is under the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport, has also halted taking applications for driver’s licence tests.
The ministry in its website has published a notice that reads ‘online application is closed till next notice’.
Tirtha Raj Khanal, spokesperson at the department, said 8,900 people used to apply for driver’s licence daily in normal times.
"That was our capacity for online application and it used to get full daily,” said Khanal.
With the driver’s licence application and tests halted for at least another four months, hundreds of thousands of people are likely to be affected.
The department’s records show 4,000 people across the country used to pass both written and practical driver’s licence tests daily.
In the past three months alone, around 348,000 people have been deprived of getting their driver’s licence.
While the department has said that its staff cannot handle the workload if it were to resume the tests now, many service seekers have said the decision has caused them serious inconvenience.
Suraj Ranabhat, 27, who learned to drive recently, was planning to apply for a driver’s licence next month.
“I am leaving for Canada in January for my studies. If I had a licence, it would have been easier for me to apply for one in Canada,”said Ranabhat.
The department’s decision has also affected many driving instruction schools. With no prospect of getting clients for months, many of these schools could shut down for good.
“We were already struggling after closing down our business for months due to the lockdown.
With the latest decision of the department, we are unlikely to get clients. We have to close down the school,” said Makchum Maharjan, who operates Driving School Nepal in Ekantakuna, Lalitpur.
Maharjan accused the department of hurting their business with its unreasonable decision.
“Even public transport service has been reopened, so why can't the department come up with a way to conduct licence tests. It would not only save our business but also save many people the hassles of being put on the waiting list to give the tests,” said Maharjan.
He said before the lockdown, every month his institute would train over 200 people who would get driving training and over 1,800 would come to learn to give trail on an hourly basis.
“Without income how can we pay the big slump of money we leased for the land to train people for trail,” questioned Maharjan, he said yearly he needs to pay Rs one millin for the land that has been leased to teach driving.