Around six lakh people in Kerala are waiting for their driving licenses as driving tests in the state have come to a halt following the coronavirus pandemic.
Driving schools have not been functioning for the last five and half months due to COVID regulation protocols. The central government has extended the validity of the learner’s licenses taken before March to September 30. After this period, the learner’s license will have to be renewed by paying Rs 150.
Training centres were exempted from the lockdown in unlock - stage 3 order released by the central government. States like Tamil Nadu have already restarted driving tests and training. Those who have taken learner's licenses have sent letters to the Chief Minister and the Opposition leader in this regard.
25,000 vehicles to be repaired
More than 25,000 training vehicles will be damaged in the state as driving classes have been stopped for a long time. Vehicles that have been fitted with additional breaks and clutches with permission from the Motor Vehicle Department (MVD) cannot be sold either.
There are more than 4,000 driving schools in the state, with each district having between 150 and 225 driving schools. Malappuram district has the highest number of driving schools with 350. When the classes eventually restart, a large sum of money will have to be spent for repairing these vehicles.
4,500 driving tests completed per day
4,500 driving tests used to be completed per day under the purview of RTOs and Joint RTOs in the state. Tests were conducted on all days except Wednesday. Now, it would be an extremely strenuous task for the MVD to complete the driving tests of all those who hold a learner’s license.
Online learner’s license
Learner’s license tests are conducted online also. In the last month alone, 2,90,644 people applied for a learner's license via online.
Aid for driving schools
Driving schools cannot pay the taxes for the vehicles or insurance. The suicide of the driving school owner in Kottayam would be enough to understand the depth of the crisis in this sector. Decisions should be taken immediately and financial aid should be provided, said M. S. Prasad, state secretary of All Kerala Motor Driving School Instructors and Workers Association.
Permission denied only in Kerala
It is only in Kerala that the permission to open driving schools are denied. The government levies fees for the driving test while collecting fees for learner’s license. However, tests are not being conducted. The families of driving school employees have been starving for the past six months, said M. G. PradeeP Kumar state secretary, Driving School Workers Union.
Problems will be resolved
The government has to take a decision regarding resumption of driving tests in the state. MVD is mulling a solution for the issue of learner’s license becoming expired, said Rajeev Puthalath, Joint Transport Commissioner.
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