Fitness checking and certification of vehicles running in Punjab could not be done for the last eight months.
A foreign company responsible for vehicle inspection in the province could not open after the coronavirus lockdown imposed in March this year.
As per details available with The Express Tribune, The Vehicle Inspection and Certification System (VICS) had been closed since the first lockdown was enforced in March due to the coronavirus pandemic in Punjab.
The Punjab Transport Department had extended the fitness certificates of thousands of vehicles without checking for six months. Due to inactivity of fitness checking centres, vehicles had become a major source of smog by emitting smoke on the roads.
The Punjab government had abolished the system of Motor Vehicle Examiner in 2015 and contracted a Swedish firm for fitness and inspection of vehicles which was supposed to set up VICS centres for vehicle inspection across the province. As per the agreement, the company’s commercial vehicles were to be inspected and certificates were to be issued to them for which data was provided to the company by the government.
In case of inspection and certification of less than 50% of the provided vehicles, Punjab government will pay compensation to the company. Under the agreement, the company must first complete its network of centres across the province for which the government land was to be provided on lease to the company.
However, the company failed to complete its network even after five years since the abolishment of motor vehicle examiner system. The foreign company’s system had not been able to achieve significant success in vehicle inspection and certification in the province. The company had now closed its centres since March 2020 which had stopped the work of inspection and certification of vehicles.
In such a situation, there was no system for fitness and inspection of vehicles in the province for eight months. In such a situation, Punjab Transport Department had adopted a unique formula of extending the fitness certificates of the vehicles for six months without inspecting them. Under this formula, the officials of said department were looking at the old certificates of the vehicles and affixing a sixmonth extension stamp on them.
The vehicles were not being inspected but an affidavit was being taken from the owner of the vehicle that they were responsible for the fitness of their vehicle. The provincial transport department officials stated in addition to the inspection fee ranging from Rs1,300 to Rs4,000, a fine of Rs6 per day was being received from vehicle owners and their fitness certificates were being extended for six months.
Due to this, the smoke-emitting vehicles across the province were openly circulating because they had an extended fitness certificate from the transport department which was causing a terrible increase in environmental pollution. Thus, there was practically no system of vehicle inspection and fitness in Punjab for the last eight months. In this regard, Punjab Transport Minister Jahanzeb Khan Khichi said the purpose of establishing VICS was to make transport fitness in the province of international standard.
“The foreign company had been operating for five years and, so far, it had set up 27 stations in only 26 districts of the province. The company was to complete its network across the province as soon as possible.” He added that after said company completes its network in the province, the government will pay compensation to the company in case of inspection and fitness of less than 50% of the vehicles as per the agreement.
“But even if the company has not completed its network in the province, how can it be compensated?” The provincial transport minister further said the company should first complete its network so that we can then connect it to the excise and taxation system. “According to the agreement, the company can claim the subsidy only after these steps.” The company has informed us in writing that it will open its inspection centres from December 1,” he claimed
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