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Renewing My Driving License

Issue August 2018

Renewing My Driving License

Siddhi B Ranjitkar


My driving licensee expired on July 26, 2018; however, I have 35 days to renew it without fines. So I went to the Department of Transport at Ekantakuna in Lalitpur for renewing the license On August 19, 2018. Previously, drivers have to renew their licenses every year. When the people’s elected government came to power in 1991 the then Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala made it to renew once every five-year easing tremendously to the drivers and the administration, too. Previously, the license was typed and then pasted with an auto size picture and on it pasted a security sign, and the concerned authority signed on it with red ink. All the personal data of drivers were stored in the computer except for the thumbprints, signatures, and the pictures. However, my experience in renewing the driver license this time is extraordinary because of the digitization of every step of work and surely the driving license.


I had read the news that the driving licensing has been digitized; however, I have no clue how it has been done. So, on August 19, 2018, when I went to the Department of Transport at Ekantakuna in Lalitpur with some unique feeling what would be waiting for me. I had to spend only an hour or so because of my age, and as a senior citizen I bypassed the line of service seekers. Other folks might not be so fortunate, and probably have to spend longer time as they have to go through the line of the people waiting for their turn, and wait until the turn comes to go through the process for the renewal of licenses.


First thing I noticed is a lot of vendors at the gate to the Department of Transport providing the customers with a variety of services. Some vendors were providing the customers with fresh fruit dishes others were with photocopying services. I was amazed to see many people around providing so many sorts of services. With the sizzling sun overhead, folks enjoyed the fresh fruit dishes, and cool fruit juice.


I also noticed a counter with the sign of Postal Service but I did not see anybody going there and buying postal stamps. Every driving license renewable document required having a ten rupee postal stamp. Probably, small vendors bought a lot of postal stamps at 10 rupees each at the Postal Service, and them retailed those stamps at 15 rupees each.


Previously, I needed to fill up an application form; and the licenses were manually typed on a paper. This time only the photocopies of the citizenship certificate and the driving license are required. My assistant took me to the photocopying service vendor. The woman working at the photocopying machine took my documents and photocopied without any questions, stitched together the photocopies with the original driving license and glued a ten-rupee postal stamp and asked for 35 rupees. She charged 15 rupees for the ten-rupee postal stamp, and 10 rupees for each photocopy. Surprisingly, nobody including me did not bother to walk about 100 meters down to buy the postal stamp at the Postal Service Counter rather opted to pay five rupees more.


When I was walking to the token counter someone told me to get the health checkup certificate. He showed me the counter, and I noticed the Health Service signboard. I gave 40 rupees to the gentleman at the counter for health certificate, and gave my documents. The man behind the counter took the 40 rupees and stitched a small note with the health checkup certificate, and returned me the documents.


With these documents on my right hand I went to line up at the token counter to receive a token. The man at the counter saw me lining up with the young people. When I reached the counter, he took my documents and then he printed out a document. Then he returned me a few documents without the photocopies of citizenship certificate and driving license, and a slip of the token. Then he told me that I needed not stand in a line and go straight to the picture-taking women because I am a senior citizen. Surely, he did not want to see me standing in line. He is so generous to the senior citizens. Thanks to the young generation of Nepalis, senior citizens have been honored at least at the public places.


The document I received from the token counter was the computer printout of my personal record stored in the computer stitched together with my original driving license, and of course the token. Probably, I did not need a token because I would be going straight to the women working on taking pictures.


As suggested by the so kind young man at the token counter, I went straight to the picture-taking hall without thinking twice; nobody said a word. Four young women were at the computer screens working on taking the pictures of the customers, and recording other personal data. They have some problems of the computer working slowly. Then, not surprisingly, the power went off and all the screens were shutdown. The backup power came immediately but the computer had to start everything again. It took some time.


When the computer worked fast it took slightly more than a minute to take the picture, and complete everything. I gave my documents to the woman at the screen and sat on the stool set in front of her, just vacated by my predecessor. She got my number and opened up my record in the computer. She positioned the cursor on the right thump slot and asked me to put my right thumb on the sensor, and then she asked me to put my left thumb. Thus, she completed taking my thumbprints, and saved them in the computer. Then, she positioned the cursor on the picture slot, she asked me to wipe the sweat from my face, and sit straight and look straight at the screen camera. She set the picture at the right slot and then clicked. Finally, she asked me to sign on the digital box; I did. Done everything probably not taking more than a minute when the computer worked fast, and the power supply was consistent.


She told me to go to the room number 11 but I did not see any room with that number. She pointed her finger to the room. I went there. It was for testing eyesight. Again a woman tested my eyesight asking me to read the smallest letter. I did it without any trouble. Then, she asked me to read the number printed on dots. Again I had no problem of reading those numbers. My eyesight test was done. She asked me to take my documents to the man at the computer screen on the next desk. Probably, he recorded my eyesight test results in the computer, and returned me all my documents.


Then, he told me to go to the counter number 12. I did not see any such number. As a senior citizen, I was enjoying the privilege of going straight to the counters in the hall. No numbering is done inside because they don’t need it. Again someone pointed to the man wearing a goggles, and said that was the place where the number 12 counter.


I saw only the back of the man working on the computer screen at this counter. I extended my documents to the man on his back saying, “I am a senior citizen please accept my documents.” The man himself with silver hairs kindly took my documents extending his right hand behind him not even looking at me. He opened up my record, and then he probably typed all the remaining information on the keyboard and saved them in the main computer. That was done, and he gave me back the documents.


Finally, to the last counter that also from inside I approached as a senior citizen. Here a young woman is opening the records of a few persons and then printing out the vouchers. The man collecting the fees for renewal read out the name of the person on the voucher and the amount to be paid in loud voices so that the people outside could hear it. Then, he collected 2,000, 4,000, and even more depending on the fines folks have to pay for not renewing their licenses on time. Finally, he read out my name, and I paid 2,000 rupees. He returned my driving license with the computer printout containing my personal data, and two copies of the voucher.


The voucher contained the renewed license number, the expiry date after five years. Obviously, the computer has set the expiry date, the renewal fee, and fines to the folks that have failed to apply for the renewal of licenses on time. Thus, everything has been computerized, and making the unauthorized licenses has been made almost impossible.


Someone told me that I could check the status of when I would get the computer-printed licenses on the website of the Department of Transport. I asked the man collecting the fees of renewing the licenses for the website. He said that it was posted everywhere. However, I could not find it.


My assistant told me that I might need to wait a year or so to get the computer-printed license until then I could use the voucher as a driving license. What a remarkable achievement has been done in issuing and renewing the driving licenses. The working of the staffers and the number of women working there has been really impressive to me. This is what really the development in Nepal has been during the last few years after the establishment of Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal eliminating the dynastic rule of autocrats lasted for several millenniums.


August 20, 2018


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