The Department of Motor Traffic in Werahera, popularly known as RMV, has been one of the main destinations visited by many individuals with a dream of obtaining a driver’s licence. But lately, there have been rumours about bribing activities that have been going on within and outside the premises. In an attempt to shed light on this issue, the Dailymirror herewith exposes certain observations made during an attempt to find out the sums being collected as bribes and in what circumstances.
Exposure by Lankadeepa
In a recent exposure by our sister paper Lankadeepa, much was revealed about the activities that took place behind the scenes at the RMV. At the time the reporter visited the RMV premises back in July this year, the situation was learnt to have been worse.
According to him, there are brokers right at the front of the gate, calling people to get their help instead of waiting in long queues inside the building. These brokers direct the visitors to various driving schools which are situated right in front of the RMV premises where they would keep their share and provide them with their requirements. Another way that they function is by having close ties with officers working inside the RMV office. In order to get your work done, one has to be present at the RMV premises from 8.00 am to 3.00 pm. It definitely shows a delay on the side of the officers at the RMV but there is a reason behind this routine. Most officers rely on this bribing game which is given more priority. By the time the officers finish their ‘off hand’ activities, it would be 12.00 noon and then they leave for lunch. They return around 2.00 pm to serve the other visitors who do not intend to be bribed at any cost, but by then they have approached the counter, it is time to wind up the day.
Those who come to obtain new licences are bribed in different ways. The driving schools ‘charge’ a sum of Rs.1,500 - 2,500 with a reason they attribute to ‘pay’ the examiner and the amount changes depending on the type of licence that you require. Thereafter, the learners are charged for the type of vehicle they use to do their test, that would be either a motorcycle or another vehicle. After the driver was examined, the group ‘in charge’ claims that they have to ‘please’ the examiner for getting them through the test, and he is ‘gratified’ with a few more bucks amounting from Rs.1,000 - 1,500.
The incident: What happens outside the RMV premises
The reporter, under disguise of an applicant who wanted to get a new SIM card for his licence, approached one of the brokers named ‘Weere aiya’. ‘Weere aiya’ spoke to the reporter and asked whether he wanted a heavy vehicle or a light vehicle licence and said he (reporter) had to wait in the queue if he wanted to enter. In order to ease this nuisance, Weere aiya suggested that he could have the requirement met within an hour at a ‘charge’ Rs.4,200. Thereafter the visitor (reporter) started a friendly conversation with him and had asked how he could do that. Then he asked what the requirement was. When it was told, he wanted a new SIM card, Weere aiya had accompanied him (reporter) to a driving school opposite the RMV. The broker said that he would get the SIM card after giving the ‘relevant charge’ to the officer at the driving school. Then Weere aiya seemed to have told that he could get the SIM card within an hour for Rs. 4,250 or else he had stay till late.
The criteria inside the premises
In order to get more information about what happens inside the department, the reporter had detached himself from Weere aiya and started visiting several offices within the RMV premises. In view to obtain the one-day service, a legitimate sum of Rs. 2,600 had to be paid while Rs. 1,500 is levied for normal service.
Therefore, one could get the licence within two to three weeks. However when the reporter has inquired about the procedure, the officials had said that he could get it within one day, but has to wait for a while. The official had also said that if he wanted to get it through normal service it would take a month. But if anyone wants to get it within a few hours, he/she falls prey to the security personnel.
Thereafter the reporter had visited the RMV canteen for breakfast. While he was there, a security guard had approached him asking whether he had came to get a licence. When the response was positive, he hadn’t remained there for long but had approached another customer who required a driver’s licence. Then the reporter had seen him contacting someone by phone and asked the visitor to meet him.
The notorious ‘H’ Hall
To obtain a new driving licence or for a renewal of the existing licence, one should visit the ‘H’ hall. While he was remaining there to get his purpose met, a security personnel had announced that people with token numbers 500-510 would be getting a normal service whereas those who held from numbers 1-10 would get their licence within one day. Upon spotting the reporter, another security personnel had queried about the reporter’s need and the answer was “Yes”, the security man said that it would be possible but there was a charge ‘charge’ of Rs. 3,950. The reporter then told the cost outside was Rs. 4,250. But the security man had apparently said, outside the process was expensive.
Observations by the
In an attempt to get more information about this incident, the recently visited the RMV premises. By the time we went in, there was a huge queue assembled to get their medical examinations done. Although a medical examination by an MBBS qualified physician was the criteria earlier, the learners now however require a Ceylon Transport Board (CTB) medical report. A medical report is an essential document when obtaining a licence or for a renewal. This is in addition to the original birth certificate and the National Identity card. This time around, the security men were seen more stringently checking each and every individual who came in and they double-checked on the requirement before allowing anybody into the relevant offices.
While inside the premises, the DM attempted to tap on a few visitors to get more information about the procedures. Appearing as visitors, under disguise to obtain driving licence, the DM team proceeded into the premises. As predicted, a security man was standing at the entrance of the ‘H’ hall and asked what our requirement was. When we told him the purpose, he asked us to produce the three documents mentioned earlier. We then asked if we could go in to inquire about the charges. He responded with a bit of arrogance saying that the cost depended on the type of vehicle we needed. Ignoring the demands of the security men to remain outside, the DM escaped into the so-called ‘notorious’ ‘H’ hall. Whilst being there, the DM team had observed that there were two security men standing at two entrances and around 10-15 people were waiting for their turn.
When inquired about the charges, an RMV officer said that one has to first get registered before proceeding. To get registered for the exam within one day, it would cost Rs.3,000 and under the normal service it would be Rs.1,500. This is for someone who intend obtaining a new driving licence. If one wants to renew his/her existing licence, the cost is Rs. 2,000 for light vehicles.
With this information, we left the premises in our quest to find someone whom we could befriend and get more information. As we were about to leave, the DM team spotted one individual outside the gate calling people for trials, and we decided to talk to him. When we told him that we were there to get a new licence, he said that we could first register and then do the exam in two weeks time. When asked if we could do the exam within a few days, he said that we could pay a sum of Rs.7,000 and get it done within a day. Thereafter he said that the learners would be called in for a trial within a period of three months.
The Dailymirror tried to contact the Commissioner of RMV Jagath Chandrasiri but the Secretary to the Commissioner mentioned that since there was an ongoing case against him at the FCID, the Commissioner was not willing to make comments to the media in this regard.