Easier driver’s licence tests go against road safety, officials sayThe move is aimed at easing the pressure of service seekers and discouraging corrupt practices, transport department director-general argues.
After being unable to handle a deluge of requests from service seekers to get new drivers’ licences, the Department of Transport Management is planning to introduce much lenient criteria to increase the licence pass rate.
According to the department, nearly one million people are yet to get their licences. The department closed its services across the country on March 24 last year due to the coronavirus pandemic and opened the services only on December 29. Now it is struggling to handle the pressure of service seekers, those who had applied before March 24 and as well as those after December 29.
There has also been an issue with the department’s online registration service, with many service seekers complaining about its webpage freezing and crashing apparently due to high web traffic.
The department officials reckon they can get around this issue by increasing the licence pass rate.
“The current licence pass rate stands at about 24 percet and we want to increase it to over 50 percent. For this, we have already set a criteria and sent it to the Ministry of Physical infrastructure and Transport,” said Gogan Bahadur Hamal, chief at the Department of Transport Management.
Hamal believes the move will also discourage service seekers from resorting to bribery to obtain licences.
“Earlier when people failed their licence test, some of them would obtain the licences by bribing officials,” he said.
Meanwhile, traffic police and even some officials associated with the transport office have said that by making the licence test easier, there could be more road accidents in the future.
“If drivers’ licences are issued without strict tests, there will be more accidents, particularly in places like Kathmandu. There could be more road fatalities,” warned SP Shyam Krishna Adhikari, spokesperson for the Metropolitan Traffic Police Division.
Ever since the authorities lifted the odd-even vehicle rule on December 18, as per the data gathered by the division, there have been 1,171 road accidents and 21 fatalities in Kathmandu Valley.
SP Adhikari said becoming too liberal while issuing a driver’s licence is like issuing a “licence to kill”.
“The proposed licence test criteria are not going to work here in Nepal because one should be a good rider” said Adhikari.
He requested the department to reconsider its decision.
Rohit Pokharel, spokesperson for the transport management office in Chabahil, is also uncertain about the proposed licence test criteria.
If the criteria is introduced, 95 percent of the applicants will pass the licence test.
“It's like everyone who applies for a new licence will get it. This could be very dangerous in terms of road safety,” said Pokharel.
Under the proposed licence test criteria, the department will be publishing a set of 500 to 1,000 questions on its website and the test questions would be asked from the same set.
For the driving test, no one will fail for making minor mistakes, like they used to in the past.
Likewise, the department has proposed a marking system for the test.
“Out of 100 marks those who obtain 60 will qualify for licence. While giving the ‘figure eight’ trial, even if the examinee fails to complete the figure but meets the other criteria and has scored the pass marks, he or she can qualify,” said Hamal.