Agents back at Trimulgherry RTA office
Once bitten, twice shy! Not the 40 odd agents who hover around the Regional Transport Authority, North Zone at Trimulgherry.
Once bitten, twice shy! Not the 40 odd agents who hover around the Regional Transport Authority, North Zone at Trimulgherry. Just five days after the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) officials conducted a surprise check and seized Rs 1.28 lakh cash from 32 private agents operating in the office premises, the agents were seen outside the RTA office trying to woo customers on Saturday.
Citizens, who are the ultimate sufferers of this irregularity, rue that no work can be done without these agents who virtually run a parallel RTO. It was also learned that agents at the RTO, clearly outnumber the official staff.
Ram Kumar (name changed on request), an agent, said that he had been in the business for 15 years now. He says, “There is nothing else I can do. Till 1998, the agents were given licence but it was scrapped later. There are about 40-50 agents whose source of livelihood is getting licences for public.”
Agents charge anywhere from Rs 1,600 to Rs 2,200 for a two-wheeler licence. Ashwin Kumar another agent said that they also provide service to people as they would not have to run around. Even educated people have many doubts. “We do all the paper work.”
Agents have extended their workplace even outside the RTO premises. The Irani café adjacent to the RTA is one such spot and on the opposite side of the road.
RTA office short staffed
On an average 400-500 people visit the RTA office at Trimulgherry daily but there are only 10 administrative staff including Administrative Officers. There are just two Motor Vehicle Inspectors (MVI) and three Assistant Motor Vehicle Inspectors (AMVI) with five home-guards to assist. A senior official says, “Every staff member is over-burdened. There are days when we cut short our lunch time to cater to the public. Also being close to the Cantonment we have many officers from the Army, who we cater to. When the home guards are sent to the bank along with cash we are left with a few to attend to the public.”
Venkat, a home guard, said that there was an e-seva office above the RTA office and many people enter the campus. People come with queries ranging from Aadhaar cards to voter ID cards. They would have to patiently answer all.
“There are seven cameras placed at strategic locations but unless the menace of agents is not rooted out there would be no respite for the common man,” said Raghu, software professional who was applying for a licence. “People are lazy and are to be partly blamed. When a licence can be got for Rs 700 there is no need to give agents thousands,” he avers.
Sridevi, a resident of Kharkhana says, “I tried getting a licence on my own but was rejected, so I am going through an agent.”
People require agents for other reasons as well, since some people are illiterate, some do not know Telugu or English, and some don’t know which departments to approach.
Online procedures too do not provide a respite
Meanwhile, the new computerised system does not seem to have brought any respite to licence applicants from long and tedious formalities.
The procedure for making a learning licence is actually quite simple. An application form is required, after filling which the candidate has to attach an address proof, age proof and a photo identity proof and submit with Rs 24 at the counter. The person sitting at the counter will note down the address and name of the candidate, and a computerised photo will be taken.
Commenting on the feasibility of the online procedures, Amit Mitra, a resident of RK Puram, says, “Even though we book a slot online, many a time our learners licence application is rejected. Thus people prefer agents.”