Nine years after the computerisation drive in the Motor Vehicles Department (MVD) was launched in Ernakulam, the citizen service delivery at the Regional Transport Office (RTO) and its sub offices in the district remain seriously affected, thanks to the use of outdated computer systems and software.
The computers take ages to respond to a command while the software has not been updated for the last more than five years.
Power failure also hits the functioning of the department as the back-up for the computers is rudimentary due to the limited capacity of UPSs. The situation is no different in offices supported by generators, as they facilitate the functioning of only 25 per cent of the computers.
All this has a cascading effect on service delivery inviting the wrath of the public who often have to wait in long queues. A senior MVD official in the district said that the older version of the software, Smartmove, is not attuned to the quantum of work handled by the department, especially the complicated proceedings related to tax payment. For instance, a private bus operator can pay tax in any of the road transport offices in the district and the lack of synchronisation of data available with various offices make the verification of tax payment a laborious and time-consuming process.
No IT wing
More importantly, the software has no provision to allocate timings to private bus operators making it an arduous task for department officials as they have to manually verify the timings before allocating a slot to a bus operator. Computerisation of timings would have enabled the department to provide the public with timings of buses in different routes on their mobile phones.
The official said that the department that boasts complete computerisation does not even have a dedicated Information Technology wing to attend to problems on time. The service of a few department officials who had assisted experts from the National Informatics Centre when it developed the software is sought after whenever there is a problem. The official said that this arrangement is not tenable as these officials get shifted out on promotion or transfers.
The objective of making MVD offices paper-free has also been undermined due to the absence of a digitisation drive even as files continue to consume valuable space in MVD offices in the district. The department is required to keep track of records for differing periods ranging between one to 10 years.
As of now, only important sections of files are entered in to systems whereas the department may have to recall the entire files especially in the case of litigations. Hence, the department cannot do away with files as long as there is no arrangement for scanning the files and saving it in digitised form, the official said.