By Chipo Musoko, HARARE, July 13 (The Source) – The Vehicle Inspection Department (VID) is generating $2 million a month but all its income is being taken by the Treasury, leaving the parastatal without funds for its operations or to fight corruption, Parliament heard on Monday.
Presenting oral evidence before a parliamentary portfolio on transport and infrastructure development on Monday, VID chief vehicle inspector, Johannes Pedzapasi said the company was generating $2 million per month from its activities such as conducting learner licence tests, road tests, inspections of vehicles, inspection of maintenance facilities (garages) and weighing of vehicles but was not allowed to retain it.
“The challenge with that is that all that money goes to the fiscus and we don’t get it back to support operations,” said Pedzapasi.
“The impact of the inability to access that revenue is that operational efficiency is compromised.”
He said due to financial constraints, the parastatal was unable to replace ageing equipment used to inspect vehicles, improve infrastructure which is now over 40 years old and expand its centres countrywide.
“Recapitalisation is also affected because the kind of equipment we require for modern vehicles is modern but we still have old equipment,” he said.
The other challenge, Pedzapasi said was that of a manual system which did not link data of vehicles that would have failed tests.
He said learners had to wait for six months to be issued with their metal licences due to backlog as there was only one machine to print them nationally.
Pedzapasi said corruption was also rampant at VID and lack of resources was preventing the department from further tightening the loopholes to curb it.
“We feel that if our systems were automated, we would reduce the interface between a person and the system and be able to weed out some of the corrupt tendencies,” he said.
In the meantime, Pedzapasi said he had introduced various initiatives to curb corruption at VID including an evidence-based manual system to monitor the trends of every depot or inspectors, particularly pass rates and the relationships with driving schools and instructors as well as vehicles inspected.
He said 80 percent of the learner’s practical tests were conducted at the VID complexes in public, with a failure rate of 75 percent.
Of the 25 percent who did town driving, only two percent failed he said.
“In town driving, ordinarily where someone would have exhibited skills in performing the four tasks (drums, parallel parking, hill start and three point turn) the chances of that person failing are slim,” he said.
Members of the Parliament complained about rampant corruption at VID alleging that some learners were forced to part with $200 by driving schools in connivance with some inspectors while others were being issued with licences while at home.
Pedzapasi said he was doing all he can to fight corruption adding that since he took over as chief in 2008, at least 20 officers had been fired mainly, from the Chiredzi depot which had since been closed. Also, 199 driver’s licences were cancelled.
“Last month one officer from Eastlea was fired after pretending to have inspected a vehicle and passing it,” he said, adding that another from Belvedere was also relieved of his duties for a similar offence.
He said they had recruited 169 trainees to help increase inspection of private vehicles.
He said of the 800,000 vehicles registered in the country, only 50 percent were being inspected annually due to shortage of human resources.
Asked whether there was a policy not to inspect government, army and police vehicles some of which were not roadworthy, Pedzapasi said there was no such law.
“We have challenges with government vehicles, we inspect and give them written notices prohibiting them from using the roads until they pass the test but they don’t come back. The same applies to the army vehicles,” he said.
Appearing before the same committee, an official the transport ministry’s Road Motor Transport department, Joyce Matema said 80 percent of the public vehicles were operating without registration.
Cases were also being reported to police and occasionally vehicles were impounded while there was also rampant proliferation of fake certificates authorizing commuter omnibuses to travel distances of 150km, beyond what is stipulated for small passenger vehicles.