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P35 million Maruapula Testing Centre fails

Publishing Date : 03 December, 2018

Author : KETUMILE RAMATITI

Multitudes of Class B driving license applicants queuing to complete yard tests will have to wait until next year as the new Department of Road Transport and Safety (DRTS) automated testing system has experienced malfunctions since opening six months ago.    


The P35 million built Maruapula Testing Centre was projected to service Gaborone and peripheral areas. However, ever since the Korean company, Neo Information Systems handed the project it has not performed to the expected standards. This has affected the licensing system as most people are congested in the yard level.


After exercising patience for some time with the hope that the situation will normalise, clients are now fed-up. This week scores of livid instructors and candidates had to summon the DRTS leadership for an impromptu meeting at the ground, lamenting about the service they get from the facility. Top of the concerns is failure by the ground to test 120 candidates in a day as it was initially promised. To make matters worse, is the failure to at least manage to test 60 per day.


DRTS earlier this year abandoned the old manual system of testing drivers and introduced the automated one. The idea was for the candidates to be tested by a system which is objective and to avoid human errors from examiners. “Only one vehicle is available the other two have mechanical faults. Batteries are dead, no pressure on tires and even the one available sometimes run out of fuel and you can imagine the demand for licenses,” member of the Botswana Drivers Training Association Lesego Dithore told DRTS chief Mokotedi at the meeting.
Besides it is said there are only two examiners who cannot manage the number of applicants.


Not only is that, the Information Technology system at the ground is also down leading to the whole failure. “They could have continued with the old system of testing people because there is a lot that needs to be done before this one can be fully functional as it should,” Emmanuel Kebadirejang of The Homestead Pty Ltd said.


The Homestead is a company that was partnering with the Koreans in the building of the facility. The company was to manage and ensure the centre run smoothly after the departure of the Asians since they have been given the technical knowhow.  “It will take time before it can service as it should. The government is yet to procure IT services from us which will take time, and while we are aware of some challenges here, we still have to thoroughly look at others and bring equipment here which is ordered from Korea. Things like Tachometer will be needed,” Kebadirejang said on the sidelines of the meeting.


DRTS boss Mokotedi who was faced with plethora of questions from the irate public conceded failure. “Yes I wholly agree we failed,” he said. “There are problems here and we should work together to address this. We have apologized to the association as the three cars we have lose signals while on the field, so im going to request patience,” he told a fully packed waiting room.


The amenity which boasts of being the first of its kind in Africa should work concurrently with the old yard if the DRTS wants to issue out licenses, candidates wrote in a letter presented to Mokotedi. “Allow me to say this, issues outside my jurisdiction will be escalated to my principals and I will do that on this matter to have two fields working concurrently,” said Mokotedi.  He however assured angry multitudes that they are on the brink of procuring the services from The Homestead.


An automated testing system is the way to go for most of the countries. Botswana joined the bandwagon despite the glitches, but the system has been hailed as the best in exception of the challenges experienced. It is anticipated that the facility will be revived by the IT experts while candidates use the old manual system.

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