Various research studies suggest that more than two-thirds of vehicle fires are caused by mechanical faults. And only to avoid this, RTOs are given the task of checking all commercial vehicles once in one or two years. They should ensure that all vehicle parts, particularly brakes, clutches and electrical components are in good condition.
“But the standards of testing have come down late because of two major reasons – bribes and staff shortage,” said S Yuvaraj from Tamil Nadu Lorry Owners’ Association. Most of the vehicle owners approach the RTOs for fitness tests through agents by paying bribes and checks are lenient during such occasions, he said. Despite vigilance wing booking cases for FC bribes, it continues unabated.
Every year more than 5.5 lakh FCs are issued across Tamil Nadu. But there are only 500 Motor Vehicle Inspectors to do this job, according to official data. This indicates the shortage and need to recruit more inspectors. Many inspector posts have remained vacant since 2016, say transport department officials.
To resolve these and make vehicle inspection processes efficient, The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) directed all states to set up Automatic Vehicle Fitness Testing Centers. In TN, proposals were made in 2017-18 to have such centers in Sholinganallur, Chennai and Trichy on pilot basis. But it has remained on paper till date.
Advocate R Srinivasan said that in TN, only school vehicles are subjected to strict checks and that too after the 2012 accident in which a Class II student from Zion Matriculation School died. And this is why we can see news that thousands of vehicles fail tests every year. “The same guidelines need to be followed for all commercial vehicles like cabs and buses, which are used by millions of common people every day,” he said.