Editor's Comment

Good move, RTSA

THAT the Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA) has started implementing a pilot programme of decentralising the issuance of motor vehicle licences and road tax to selected local authorities across the country is not only progressive but long overdue.
It is commendable that RTSA is not sitting idly by but working to improve efficiency in its service delivery.
We all know that Zambia’s population keeps growing, and as it does the demand for various services also increases.
Over the years we have witnessed an increase in the number of Zambians buying cars and this has led to high demand for services such as motor vehicle registration, driver’s licensing and road tax payments, among others.
By 2018, it was estimated that there were over 800,000 vehicles in the country.
Given that people are buying vehicles every day, with an estimation of about 100 vehicles being registered per day, it is certain that the number keeps growing and at a very fast rate.
This subsequently puts pressure on RTSA services, which have been centralised in a few areas for a long time.
We cannot for instance allow every motorist to come to Lusaka for vehicle licensing.
It is a known fact that road tax payment is one of the dreaded exercises by Zambian motorists due to the torturous queues they are subjected to.
Due to the long queues that characterise the road tax payment window, RTSA is often compelled to extend the payment period.
This unfortunately has become an annual trend. What this entails is that the demand for RTSA services has increased and cannot therefore be met by the old service delivery capacity.
It is however encouraging that RTSA is cognisant of the need to meet the growing demand of its services in an efficient manner.
RTSA’s decentralisation of services to other supporting institutions like the councils is certainly a step towards increasing efficiency in its service delivery.
It is incumbent upon RTSA as a public institution to ensure that it provides a good service so that motorists are not inconvenienced in the process of fulfilling their obligations.
Surely 54 years after independence, it is not acceptable for people to travel long distances just to pay road tax or have their cars registered.
These services should be within reach, to allow motorists to fulfil their obligations without sacrificing productivity.
For instance, during payment of road tax, people abandon their work stations to camp at RTSA payment points, thereby losing out on man-hours.
This should not be allowed in a country that still has a long way to go in its development journey.
Needless to say, long queues and inefficient service delivery is a sure recipe for corruption.
The decentralisation of RTSA services, which include motor vehicle and trailer licensing, to some councils will certainly help reduce long queues and chances of corruption.
Devolution of vehicle licensing will help take the service closer to the people especially in areas where the agency has no offices.
It is also good that RTSA intends to complement the vehicle and trailer licensing which is being rolled out to selected local authorities countrywide, by assigning vehicle examiners to undertake physical inspection of motor vehicles for roadworthiness
In the pilot phase, the agency has engaged 16 local authorities from Lusaka, Central, Eastern, Western and Luapula provinces.
It is hoped that the programme to decentralise to other areas will follow sooner than later to ensure that RTSA takes its services closer to the people.
It is also hoped that in the near future all other services that RTSA offers will be accessible to all Zambian motorists regardless of location in the country.

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