HINA RIAZ

It is generally believed that modernisation represents development and progress of any country. The magnet of advancement has always attracted public attention and appreciation. History reveals that whenever a newfangled system or practice is introduced people adapt it leaving the past in the past.

For instance, there was a time when people used to dig water wells to fill vessels. The system was thought to be ideal unless proper sanitation came into light. Moreover, after getting access to improved sanitary conditions people preferred the latest system as if it was always meant to be this way. There are tens of thousands such examples showing that effort is important, but making the effort in the right direction makes all the difference.

Pakistan is a developing country. In order to cope up with the progressing countries of the world, it is important to improve law and order situation in the country and update the existing systems. Among the many areas that require upgradation and reassessment, registration of vehicles occupies a central place.

For centuries, Pakistan has been dealing with the menace of illegal registration of number plates, unregulated agents, corruption, revenue lapse and stealing of vehicles. It was imperative to replace the existing system with a more systematic, efficient and modern one.

Whenever it comes to taking any step for common good in Pakistan, Punjab takes the lead. The people of Punjab are fortunate to have a considerate leader like CM Punjab Mian Shehbaz Sharif, who has always led the path leading to progress and prosperity of a common man without any fear.

Recently, under the leadership of CM Punjab, Chief Minister’s Special Monitoring Unit (Law & Order) introduced the groundbreaking project of Dealer Vehicle Registration System (D.V.R.S) in Punjab. This initiative was made possible by the collaboration of Chief Minister’s Special Monitoring Unit and the Excise, Taxation and Narcotics Control department.

Senior Member SMU (Law & Order) Salman Sufi also deserves credit for making hectic efforts to make this project a success. Sufi has burnt the midnight oil to introduce this innovative project in Pakistan with the ability to cater all the existing problems of vehicle registration. The Dealer Vehicle Registration System is a historical initiative for the elimination of bogus and nonregistered vehicles in the province.

It is a great honor that Pakistan is the first country of Asia to have Dealer Vehicle Registration System (DVRS). The establishment of this novel and modern system is a milestone in the history of the continent. It has entered Pakistan into the list of countries where law rules.

Under the new D.V.R.S system, the registration of vehicles and issuance of license plates will be done at the point of sale through an easy to operate D.V.R.S software that has been designed by the Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB).

These dealers would be given dealership/licenses for provision of number plates to vehicle owners. Under this programme, Punjab government would announce registered dealers, who would be allowed the sale and purchase of vehicles.

A total of 57 dealers have applied from these 6 districts while 13 have already become the official licencees on behalf of the ET&NC department. In the test phase of D.V.R.S, more than 279 cars have successfully registered and received license plates at point of sale.

In the past, people had to go through a maze of challenges and hurdles to register their vehicles. According to a report, last year about 1.6 million vehicles and motorcycles were registered in Punjab and all applicants had to undergo an agony of standing in long lines and paying more unofficially at the hands of agents. Luckily, now the situation is going to be the other way around due to DVRS.

The DVRS also has an interface with the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) through which as soon as the customer pays the registration fees to the dealer, the amount is deducted from dealer accounts and transferred to government online. On completion of the transaction, an automated receipt is generated at the spot and given to customer, along with the license plates.

The Dealer Vehicle Registration System (D.V.R.S) functions promptly resulting in zero “applied for” vehicles on road. The existence of applied for vehicles has remained a hard nut to crack but now the story has taken a twist. This system will result in better law enforcement as the data of all vehicles will now be readily available to police and E&T officials. In addition to that in any case of theft, criminal or terrorist activities, the vehicle will be easily traced and leaving no place to escape for the criminal.

The DVRS will have multifold benefits. Due to the registration of vehicles and issuance of license plates at the point of sale, the taxpayers will no longer have to go through a tedious process. They will not be exploited by unregulated agents that take thousands of rupees from citizens in order to get their vehicle registered.

Instead, citizens will now only pay a fixed convenience fee to the dealers, which is Rs2000 for a vehicle and Rs500 for a motorcycle. The fee is fixed by the government and would provide services for issuance of number plate.

An additional benefit of this historic step is that the revenue lapse that existed in the old system will be eliminated, as the registration fees will be received on the same day the vehicle is made operational on Punjab roads. As the government will now collect registration fees in advance, the money can now be directed towards development projects that require immediate attention.

Within few months of the implementation of the project there will be no unregistered vehicles on Punjab roads. The DVRS is equally applicable to all without any exemption of rich or poor.

In fact, SMU is leading by example. It is said that charity begins at home, SMU has shown that accountability also begins at home by starting the crackdown against illegal number Plates-Unregistered cars from GORICM Office first. This is something the history has not witnessed before. This is what makes a difference, this is something we all have been awaiting!

The DVRS will ensure better law enforcement as the procedure is extremely convenient for citizens. It reflects the vision of CM Punjab to ease the public to maximum extent.

The new system will also help in illuminating corruption and usage of vehicles with forged number plates in acts of terrorism as complete data of a vehicle will be saved and computerized under the new system.

Lastly, this initiative also promotes business friendly environment by providing dealership with the opportunity to partner with government and providing businesses with a point of differentiation and could also result in increased revenue.

At present, the system is being launched in Lahore, Multan, Faisalabad, Bahawalpur, DG Khan and Rawalpindi. The government of Punjab is committed to expand the project, hopefully it will be rolled out to other districts of Punjab soon. By introducing DVRS in the province a clear change could be seen in traffic management and registration of number plates.

It is a pleasant sight to see dealers welcoming the Dealer Vehicle Registration System (DVRS), being initiated in Punjab. The dealers have expressed gratitude to the Chief Minister for making Punjab the first province of Pakistan to have such a comprehensive point of sale vehicle registration system and for providing dealerships with the opportunity of partnering with the government and boosting their business. Undoubtedly, the partnership of these organizations is a testament to the fact that public service delivery can be improved within a short span of time provided that the various agencies of the government efficiently communicate and collaborate with each other.

The Dealer Vehicle Registration System is a revolutionary step that will take Law and Order to another level in Punjab. It will not only discourage forged and applied-for number plates but streamline the whole process of registration. We must laud Punjab Government and CM’s Special Monitoring Unit for recognizing that the best paths to success are different today than they were yesterday. It is time to adopt the latest reforms for the welfare and betterment of general public. Let’s hope that DVRS works smoothly for gearing towards a bright future.