EDITORIAL: Uncalled for delay

This department is blaming the previous management for present debacle as they had done little to procure and provide smart cards

There has been an inordinate delay in the issuing of smart driving licenses. There are over 150,000 people waiting to get such licenses as there is a shortage of smart cards throughout the country. This has caused much inconvenience to the vehicle drivers as they have to drive without the required licenses and hence are punished by the traffic police for driving without the smart cards. As the government is unable to make such cards available the service seekers, even those who have passed the driving trial examination, are waiting eagerly for over six months, and yet they still have to procure the licenses. Those seeking renewal of their old license are also affected. The vehicle drivers who are driving without licenses could face stern action from the police although they are not at fault.

What is even more worrying is that those applying for the smart cards will have to wait till the end of December of this year to acquire them as there is an acute shortage of digital licenses. The authorities claim that they are doing all they can to resume the supply of smart cards as early as possible. The Department of Transport Management, following the acute shortage of these cards, has awarded a contract to an Indian company, Madras Security Printers, to supply an additional 750,000 smart driving license cards to the government by the end of December. This department is blaming the previous management for the present debacle as they had done little to procure and provide the smart cards. They say they did not issue a tender for the smart cards in the last fiscal year despite the fact that they had been provided Rs. 160 million for the purpose. As a result, the funds have remained frozen. If the allegations against the former officials are true then it is a height of irresponsibility on their part and they deserve to be punished for their inefficiency. Moreover, as an Indian company has been awarded the contract to print and supply the smart card there are some who believe that the privacy of the Nepali citizens acquiring such cards would be in peril. This is indeed a genuine concern.

As for now, there are plans underway to issue another tender in the near future to purchase smart cards and printing machines. This would make it possible to print the digital licenses in the country itself. It would also mean that the service seekers would be able to receive the licenses without many hassles which they are facing now with the unwarranted delay in issuing such cards. The smart cards should be made easily available to all those who have qualified to receive them. There is also a need to exercise caution that the cards are not forged that could happen if the authorities do not do the required monitoring. Meanwhile, the distribution of the smart cards should be done from all the seven provinces in the country so that the service seekers should not have stand in long queues as is the case now where many people are seen lining up in order the procure the smart driving licenses which have become a necessity now at present times.

Low capacity

The Melamchi Drinking Water Supply Project will supply only 50 percent of its total capacity for the first six months as its water treatment plant will be able to treat only 85 million littre of water per day (mld). The project will however bring 170 mld through 27-km long waterway tunnel. The project will require two water treatment plants each of which will treat 85 mld. Project officials have said they have just completed 20 percent of the second water treatment plant. This is the reason why the project will not be able to supply water at full capacity for the first six months.

The project has a plan of distributing water in the Kathmandu Valley by March 26 next year as per the revised deadline. The second treatment plant will be completed only in July. The officials have not given reasons why it was delayed to construct the second treatment plant as its tender was also awarded along with the first one. Such a

delay should not have happened in a multi-billion rupee project like this which took several years to kick start. Experts are doubtful about the project’s ability to supply water by March-end as it will also take a few months to test pipelines with water.