The already understaffed Ernakulam Regional Transport Office (RTO) has plunged into deeper crisis after eight clerical staff left in quick succession in the last one month either on promotion or transfer.
While two left on promotion a month back, three others followed suit last week. The operations took another hit when three more were transferred out to other offices on Monday effectively reducing the strength of clerical staff from 24 to 16.
If that was not enough, Ernakulam RTO has to assign five clerks to run its counters at Friends Jana Sevana Kendram despite the fact the collective work force of five brings in less than one per cent of what a single clerk collects at the RTO in a day.
What makes things worse is that the posts that fell vacant due to promotions and transfers are unlikely to be get filled through cross-office transfers anytime soon. MVD sources said Ernakulam RTO was not a popular destination among officials for fear that they would be piled under work, thanks to its reputation of being one of the busiest RTOs in the State.
Besides, the government also seems to have ruled out the option of cross-office transfers, as it has asked the RTO to report all existing vacancies to the Public Service Commission (PSC). Recruitment by PSC and training freshly recruited staff take time.
The fall in staff strength will impact the public as services from the office are likely to get inordinately delayed.
“No vacancies had been created of late and we were already working with a staff strength that was highly disproportionate to the burgeoning vehicle population, which is registering an average growth of 20 per cent annually,” B.J. Antony, Ernakulam RTO, told The Hindu.
He said the depleted staff strength has left the department with the prospects of facing contempt of court petitions. While clerical work like licence renewal is relatively simple, tasks like replying to audit reports and following up on court verdicts on issues related to bus permit are complex and time-consuming.
“The officials who left the office on being promoted were seniors handling important work in the section relating to bus permits. A void there means that acting on court verdicts may get delayed, attracting contempt of court,” Mr. Antony said.
The fall in manpower also puts additional pressure on existing staff who already have their hands full. “Many of our staff work even on Sundays and there are others who start their day at office as early as 7 a.m. to clear the work load,” Mr. Antony said.