GLENN COSTA | B&C
Once upon a time a visit to the RTO office was a proposition to be dreaded as at any given time there used to be long queues. Even a casual enquiry to check what documents were required for a learning licence was a waste of two-three hours.
This had led to a proliferation of facilitators or ‘agents’ who hung around RTO offices, especially in tea shops that existed. They were normally people who had contacts with the department officers and got things moving for any person for a fee.
They filled your forms, helped you arrange for documents, arrange for your tests, get appointments and also prepared you for the tests. Till a couple of years ago you could not do anything in the department without the help of these ‘helpful souls’ – but for a fee of course. Today things are the same, but also different. The authorities have made driving school training compulsory to get a licence. Without going through training at such a school you are not entertained at the department.
These schools charge some Rs 2500 plus and that includes a portion that is allegedly directly given to the powers that be. The middleman has been eliminated in this and things have got organised and quick for the people who do not have to go through the hassle of standing in queues and finally finding an agent to get things done. Sadly, though this department has become synonymous with pecuniary gratification, today things have improved and long queues have almost become a thing of the past. New car registration is taken care of by the motor vehicle company and that has been eliminated from the loop.
In these cases, the exchange of gratification has become a part of the system and the once prevalent agents are confined to permits and passing – especially of transport vehicles. The ordinary citizen and the businessman feel he has no choice in the matter due to the harassment otherwise meted out by the department in clearing their files. However, every time we buy a new vehicle or in case we need to sell one or buy a used vehicle we have to interact with transport department officials or RTOs as they are commonly called. Even in daily life, citizens have to deal with them in many ways as they are the enforcement arm of the government, to keep discipline on the roads or ensure that road users follow the rules. They do this duty along with the traffic police.