Kathmandu Valley resumes driving licence tests for pending applicantsOver 700,000 applications are in the backlog. Under new rules, examinees will not be failed for minor mistakes.
Starting Sunday, the Department of Transport Management resumed the trial and written exams for driver’s license in the Bagmati Province for those whose exams were cancelled after the prohibitory orders were imposed in Kathmandu Valley in April.
“In Kathmandu Valley all four transport offices have resumed the exams from Sunday, but we are not aware of the developments outside the Valley. Maybe they too will resume the exams soon,” said Loknath Bhusal, spokesperson for the department.
The Department on August 26 had published guidelines for conducting the exams on its website and instructed all transport offices to resume the exams for those who have already registered.
According to the department, the applications of over 700,000 license seekers remain stalled since April 29 when Covid-19 prohibitory orders were imposed in Kathmandu and districts.
However, the department has yet to resume accepting new applications as it is unable to clear the huge backlog.
The department drew criticism for not resuming the licencing tests even though almost everything had reopened and many people who bought two wheelers and four-wheelers during the Covid-19 pandemic were driving without a licence. Officials at the department, however, had blamed the Covid-19 Crisis Management Center, as it needed the center's nod to resume the exams.
Owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, the department has not issued new driving licences since March last year when the country went into a lockdown. Though the department invited online applications for driving licences in mid-January this year, it was closed after three months in April following a surge in Covid-19 cases.
It is estimated that over a million people are in need of new driving licences.
Last week, the department had written to all the transport offices to resume the exams by following health protocols. The ‘Covid-19 Pandemic special Vehicle Licence Exam (Conduct and Management 2076) issued by the department states that no more than 25 candidates should be placed in one exam hall and the exam should be conducted by ensuring physical distance.
“On Sunday we conducted a written exam for 398 applicants who had applied on April 27 and 28,” said Rohit Pokharel, information officer at the Transport Management office in Chabahil.
The Chabahil transport office had conducted the exam at Insight Vision College in Sukedhara. Likewise, the transport offices at Thulo Bharyang, Ekantakuna and Jagati in Bhaktapur also conducted the exams on Sunday.
“We have a backlog of over 20,000 applications so we are dealing with them now,” said Pokharel.
Officials say, the Thulo Bhayrang and Jagati offices each have around 20,000 applications in backlog and around 30,000 applications are pending at the Ekantakuna office.
Unable to handle a deluge of license applications, the Department had on April 1 introduced more lenient provisions for licensing exams apparently to increase the pass rate. But many people criticised the new provisions saying they compromise on road safety.
Former chief of the department, Gogan Bahadur Hamal had said the new provisions were introduced to increase the pass rate to 50 percent from the existing 24 percent. However, officials at the department requesting anonymity said the new exams provisions would send the pass rate to around 95 percent and help them clear the backlog sooner.
Under the new rules, examinees will not be failed for making minor mistakes in the trial exams.