Sri Lankan drivers will have a hi-tech driving licence in six to eight months, where a policeman on the road would use a handheld device to the licence and read all the details of the licence holder.
The new licence will have a special `chip` inserted in it, which will enable the police or authorities to verify information directly from it. Authorities are currently planning out this new system and Motor Traffic Commissioner B. Wijayaratne said that there are 32 bidders for the contract.
The new licence will look different to the present one but will be of the same size. Wijayaratne said that the new licence is designed to prevent forgery, data change and other issues that his department faced with the present llicences. Those with old llicences will eventually, in years to come, be able to get the new licence when their old one is due for renewal, Wijayaratne assured.
The issuing of driving licences has been suspended from March 31, as the tender of the company printing the licence cards has ended. Wijayaratne said that the printing of the cards had been outsourced to a company in 1997 for a five year term and his predecessor obtained Cabinet approval to extend this tender from time to time. After Wijayaratne took over he had got it extended once but that had ended now and the issuing of licences have stopped since then.
Driving tests are being conducted at the Werahera branch at present and the applications are being processed by the Department of Motor Traffic, but Wijayaratne said that he has no authority to issue licences as the tender is over. He said that he has informed the ministry which will probably put in a paper to the Cabinet to get the tender extended again, or will advise the department on what to do next. Wijayaratne said that they are hoping to extend the old tender till the printing of the new licence cards are finalized and ready to commence in six months.
Previously, the Department of Motor Traffic entertained and processed applications for driving licenses but the printing and supplying of it was outsourced. The information gathered at the Department of Motor Traffic was coupled with the outsourced company`s computer system.