Monday, June 17, 2024


Dhaka Tribune

Nearly one million driving licence seekers yet to receive smart cards

BRTA to resume biometric data collection from August 5

Update : 30 Jul 2020, 05:00 PM

Although the government has enforced the Road Transport Act, 2018 with provisions for heavy fines for traffic rules violations, Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) is yet to provide smart driving licences to nearly one million applicants across the country.

Despite the huge backlog, BRTA has been only able to issue four to five smart driving licences each day as there were delays in signing a new contractor to manufacture the smart cards.

According to the BRTA, more than 950,000 people have already applied for smart driving licences at 57 regional offices across the country, including the one in Dhaka. It also said there were 44,71,625 registered vehicles in Bangladesh against 3,602,419 driving licences.

Finally, after overcoming all tender complexities, the government recently gave its green signal to award the contract to an Indian company, Madras Security Printers (MSP), for printing four million smart cards in the next five years. 

“As the new company received the work order of printing smart driving licence cards, all the backlog will be removed quickly,” said BRTA chairman Nur Mohammad Mazumder.

“We have already issued a circular to resume receiving biometric data of the licence seekers,” he added. 

As per the circular, biometric data collection at BRTA will resume on August 5 across the country while driving competency tests will resume from August 23.

In 2016, BRTA signed a deal with Tiger IT to manufacture 1.5 million smart licences within 2022. These new licences would be machine-readable and efficient.

However, due to the significant rise in demand, more than 1.4 million licences were printed by 2018. 

Although BRTA slowed down the issuing of driving licence after that, but the demand for smart licences sharply rose after the road safety protests in 2018 and the announcement of the new Road Safety Act. 

The new law comes with a provision of a Tk5,000 fine for driving without a licence, which will be doubled for repeating the offence.

Various officials privy to the process say BRTA had repeatedly shot itself in the foot, first by delaying in calling for tenders when the supply of smart licences failed to meet demand; and secondly, by getting itself in a dilemma where it utterly dismantled the entire process while attempting to print more smart licences.

As a result, citizens are now suffering as they cannot drive a vehicle with their smart driving licence cards. 

Furthermore, corruption continues to lurk in the shadows where there have been allegations that several syndicates were preying on the licence crisis and trying to benefit from it.

“As we have all the data required from the applicants, it will be easier to issue new licence immediately,” BRTA chairman added.

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