Ever since the enforcement of the coronavirus lockdown in late March last year, the task of issuing driving licenses in Nepal was disrupted. The applicants seeking licenses have been forced to wait for months for their turns to take exams. They have to stay in queue for as many as eight months in the Kathmandu Valley. This has definitely caused a lot of inconveniences to the candidates. However, the examinees outside the valley need to have patience for three to four months to sit for license exams. The entire process of issuing driving licenses had halted for almost nine months following the imposition of the lockdown as the Department of Transport Management (DoTM) failed to hold any driving license exams for the fear of the deadly virus disease. That forced many individuals to drive vehicles without having a license. However, the DoTM has resumed the process of receiving fresh applications and holding driving license tests since December 29 last year. The country had recorded a drop in the number of COVID-19 infections during that period.
As per the DoTM figures, a total of 714,799 persons applied for driving license examinations from December 29 last year to April 13 this year. But only 151,999 out of the total number of applicants were able to appear in the exams during the period. There has been a rising demand for driving licenses in the country, with more than 5,000 persons applying for the license exams daily. This shows that a huge number of applicants have been waiting for their turns to appear in the license exams. Neither the DoTM nor the provincial transport management service offices can give the exact number of applicants who have been waiting for their turns to sit for the exams. However, these offices have prioritised those who had applied for the exams earlier. At present, the number of trial centres set up for driving license exams stands at 23 throughout the nation. Of them, four are in the Kathmandu Valley. The trial centres can conduct examinations of only around 5,000 individuals a day. Because of this constraint, the transport management service offices are unable to hold exams for more applicants and help reduce the latter’s waiting time period.
Another limitation is that these offices do not have adequate human resources and equipment to conduct the license tests. In view of the rising demand for driving licenses, these offices are now required to manage necessary human resources to enhance their capacity. They can reduce the applicants’ waiting time by upgrading the trial centres. It is essential for the authorities to take the matter seriously and start carrying out license tests in a more efficient manner. The authorities must do the needful to conduct license exams smoothly. When it comes to service delivery, they must seek ways to improve their capability. At the same time, they should also make sure that all the health safety protocols are strictly followed by one and all so as to help prevent the transmission of the virus disease at a time when there has been a resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.