Driving lesson

Angered by DOT order, TN Driving School Owners Association goes on indefinite strike

Demanding that the Department of Transportation immediately fill Motor Vehicle Inspector (MVI) positions in all Regional Transportation Offices (RTOs) and also remove the order limiting the issuance of permits only two days a week to applicants through driving schools and among others, the Tamil Nadu Driving School Owners Association members went on an indefinite statewide strike from Monday.

The association’s state general secretary, Vaigai Kumar, said there were 2,500 registered driving schools in the state. On average, 20 to 40 and sometimes even more driving schools operate within the jurisdiction of each RTO. Instructors at these schools teach students for a stipulated period of time and then allow them to take the tests conducted by Department of Transportation officials. After passing the exam, successful students receive their driver’s license for different categories of vehicles.

Currently, five days a week, the MVIs conduct the tests for the applicants of the respective driving schools. However, due to the shortage of MVIs, the Department had, in an order issued to all of its RTOs, instructed them to conduct driving tests only two days a week (for those applying through driving schools) and to issue a license to the general public for the next three days.

“At a time when driving schools provide training to several thousand students for different categories of vehicles and help them obtain permits, such a reduction in the number of days from five to two would only embarrass students,” Mr. Vaigai Kumar said and added that the government should rather immediately fill the vacancies and also withdraw the order as it was anti-public.

He claimed that in neighboring Kerala, which has a relatively smaller population compared to TN, the Department of Transport has more inspectors. Therefore, the TN government should take proactive measures immediately and until then the driving schools in Tamil Nadu would go on strike, he added.

A senior official from Chennai Department of Transport said The Hindu that there were 140 MV inspectors in state RTOs. Admitting that 40% of vacancies needed to be filled, he said the ministry was taking action. Asked about the order limiting the number of days from five to two for driving schools to issue driving licenses, he said it was done temporarily due to a technical glitch in the system.