Pakistan Post manages to lose thousands of vehicle documents

Provincial excise ministry lays blame squarely on postal company, asks for damages

Rizwan Asif March 16, 2023


The delivery of computerised number plates and smart registration cards to vehicle owners has been plagued with issues since the two were first introduced in Punjab and the latest hurdle in the delivery process has come from Pakistan Post.

As per the provincial Excise and Taxation department, some 108,000 registration cards, 128,000 number plates, and 12,000 original files were handed over to Pakistan Post to be delivered to vehicle owners who had applied and paid but the Pakistan Post cannot seem to locate the cards, plates, or the files.

A year ago, in February of 2022, the Punjab Excise department had entered into an agreement with Pakistan Post to deliver the registration cards, computerised plates, and vehicle documents to their respective owners. In line with the agreement, the department handed over 1.085 million smart cards to Pakistan Post - out of which 946,000 were delivered, 30,000 were returned due to incomplete addresses, and 108,000 are presently missing. Moreover, excise officials gave the mailing company 1.459 million computerised number plates - out of which 1.271 million were delivered to their owners, 60,000 were returned; whereas 128,000 are missing.

Similarly, 280,000 original vehicle files were handed over to the government owned mailing company - out of which 191,000 files made their way to their respective owners, 3,800 were returned for want of an address, and 12,771 are missing.

The issue has not fallen on deaf ears as caretaker Excise Minister Punjab, Bilal Afzal, and Director General Excise, Muhammad Ali, have taken notice of the matter and ordered an investigation. However, regardless of whose fault it is, the lost cards, plates, and especially the original files will cost vehicle owners looking to sell their cars dearly.

Yasir Shaikh, a car dealer based in Lahore, commenting on the matter, said that while smart cards and computerised plates can be replaced, losing an original file is equivalent to reducing the resale value of a car.

Concurring with Shaikh, another motor vehicle dealer, Mohsin, informed, “when an original file is lost, the owner has to apply for a duplicate. The way the car market is set up, buyers shy away from buying vehicles with duplicate files.” Mohsin further said that car owners will have to face the brunt of the departmental incompetence as the value of their vehicles will decrease by hundreds of thousands of rupees “that is if they can manage to find a buyer who is okay with a duplicate vehicle file.”

When asked about remedial measures to offset the losses that car owners would now face, an Excise Department official, under the condition of anonymity, said that the Pakistan Post was responsible. “As per our agreement with the mailing company, if an original file is lost by the Pakistan Post, they will have to pay a security amount to the vehicle owner as per a fixed formula,” explained the official, adding that the postal department was also responsible for paying the fee that vehicle owners would incur for duplicate smart cards and computerised number plates.

The caretaker Excise Minister, Bilal Afzal, was also asked about the ordeal that car owners were being put through. “The incompetence of Pakistan Post’s staff has resulted in a bad reputation for the Excise Department as well,” Afzal remarked, adding that therefore he had given directions to the DG Excise to take strict action against the responsible individuals. “The caretaker government is giving the highest priority to the redressal of this issue,” Afzal assured while talking to The Express Tribune.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 16th, 2023.


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