Department did all it could
I REFER to the report headlined, ''Drivers queue to beat fee increase'' (South China Morning Post, March 2), which said that the Transport Department has failed to fulfil its performance pledge in respect of the target waiting times for obtaining certain licences, as some of our customers had to wait for 21/2 hours.
Regarding the spirit and purpose of our Performance Pledge Scheme, apart from a pledge to serve, it is also a facility to inform customers at licensing offices how long they are expected to wait in order to obtain the services direct. The pledged waitingtimes are indicated for normal business days only. They do necessarily vary according to the type of service, time of the day and the licensing offices. For unusual times, such as the few days before the annual Budget, the pledged waiting times have been accordingly adjusted upwards, to reflect the upsurge in demand.
Your report also criticised the department in failing to put in additional resources to cope with demand. In fact, we cancelled all staff leave, and manned all available counters equipped with computer terminals. Additional staff, even if provided, wouldnot add to productivity at these unusual days, because the computer terminals were already fully engaged.
The public can avoid the inconvenience of long queues by renewing their licences earlier - the law provides that licences may be renewed four months in advance - or later. The long waiting is totally unnecessary if our customers make use of the drop-in boxes that are available in all licensing offices, or apply by post. In fact, on February 21, we issued a seasonal reminder to our customers, giving this information. If our customers chose to come after the Budget and before 10 am, they would normally be able to get their service within 20 minutes.
We will always try our very best to provide a satisfactory service to customers and reduce waiting times at licensing offices as far as possible. This could be achieved, as I said, by customers renewing their licences earlier, or later as it would spreadout the workload. It would definitely help our staff who have been placed under very stressful working conditions and have faced long working hours in the past week or so.
Some of our colleagues in the First Registration of Vehicles Section had to work until 3 am on March 2, so as to clear the unusual backlog and then prepare for a new influx of applications the following day.
E. S. W. LEE for Commissioner for Transport