DESPITE earning the fourth largest revenue among various arms of the state government, the state transport wing suffers from a serious staff crunch across ranks and departments, official figures show. Vacancies currently account for 45 per cent of staff strength, with Mumbai’s offices saddled with the most crippling shortages.
The department contributes an annual earning of almost Rs 7,000 crore to the government, its collections below only the sales tax department, registration offices and excise. In 2016-17, Mumbai’s Regional Transport Offices (RTO) contributed Rs 982 crore to this total collection.
According to figures compiled by the transport wing, they are short by as many as 2,256 personnel to meet the stated requirement of 5,100 posts as of June this year. At least 40 per cent of the vacant posts are of Grade A officers, who number only 647 compared to the total requirement of 1,061.
Officials complain that the staff crunch affects work efficiency and performance. The department lacks trained senior staff who can direct and guide junior officers in various departments. “To fill the crunch, senior A rank officers are put in charge of two departments at the same time. Some have been offered additional charges to look after. While RTOs may see hundreds of inspectors, they lack seniors,” a senior RTO official said.
Officials further complain that they lack the required expertise for carrying out works due to the crunch. “For example, RTOs grapple with the required staff to deal with technical complaints and queries. In offices where technical aid is required to deal with software related issues, we struggle. This delays the process and adds to the waiting time of consumers awaiting licences, registration copies and others,” an official added.
A separate wing must be in place to understand the planning of the requirement of officials at various posts, some officials said. Last year, the transport commissioner’s office had suggested to the government a complete restructuring of departmental staff to facilitate work performance, a reply to which is yet to come.
In 2014, the Bombay High Court had directed the transport department to fill up the staff vacancies at the earliest. Later, the government relaxed recruitment rules for hiring assistant inspectors to encourage more absorption of manpower.
“In the largest ever recruitment process in the history of the department, the Maharashtra Public Service Commission is conducting a recruitment of more than 833 assistant inspectors this year. We have already filled the posts of 100 clerks in Mumbai office and would do the needful in other offices of the state by this year,” Praveen Gedam, transport commissioner said.
The records reveal that the government requires an additional 303 senior motor vehicle inspectors and around 1,008 assistant inspectors in the state. A minimum experience of five years will be required for assistant inspectors to attain the position of inspectors.