Kerala govt makes changes to contentious driving licence test directives; unions end strike

NewsDrum Desk
New Update

Thiruvananthapuram, May 15 (PTI) In the wake of intense protests against the contentious changes made to the driving licence test in the state, the Kerala government on Wednesday announced it was modifying some of the directives following a meeting with driving school unions who have been on a strike.

State Transport Minister K B Ganesh Kumar said the driving school unions have decided to call off their strike after the government promised to modify some of the directives.

The unions were mainly opposing the government's directives that a dashboard camera should be installed in vehicles used for learning and testing, and that there would be a ban on the use of vehicles older than 15 years for testing and learning.

Some of the unions had also moved the Kerala High Court against the MVD circular that decreed the reforms but the court had refused to stay the circular which also mandated that only 30 driving tests would be held per day.

Now, the government has modified its directives. Dashboard cameras would now be procured by the Motor Vehicles Department (MVD) and placed inside vehicles during a test, and four-wheelers up to 18 years old can be used for testing and learning, the minister said.

At a press conference, the minister said that the number of driving tests to be held per day has been increased to 40 per motor vehicle inspector at a Regional Transport Office (RTO).

Besides that, more officers would be deployed at RTOs and sub-RTOs, based on the backlog of pending driving tests there, he said.

"Presently, there are 2.5 lakh learner's licence holders in the state who are awaiting a driving test and not 10 lakh as claimed by some news reports," the minister said.

He also said that no one needs to worry that their learner's licence would expire after six months as they can get it extended by paying a small fee. "So, there will be no need to take the learner's licence exam all over again." The other changes in the circular include permitting vehicles with two clutches and brakes to be used for learning and testing. "Nowhere else in the world such vehicles are used for testing and learning, but we will permit it for now till the government makes alternate arrangements," the minister said.

The minister said that the intention of the government is to ensure that licences are given to only those who can drive well, in order to reduce or prevent road accidents.

"The unions too agreed on this," he said.

The minister further said that the government was planning to conduct driving tests at its own facilities in future and that the transition will be made in phases.

For the purpose, 21 sites belonging to the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) have been identified, he said.

In addition to that, KSRTC will also be opening driving schools, starting with 10 initially, he added.

"The application for that has been submitted to the government and the funds will be sanctioned soon," the minister said.

"All these measures are being taken to ensure that only those who can drive well get licences and that driving licence tests in Kerala are of international standards," Kumar added. PTI HMP HMP ANE