Interstate check posts exist in all states of India. The primary function of a check post is to check whether road tax has been paid for each vehicle. The secondary function is to check vehicles for overloading. The Regional Transport Offices Inspectors stationed at the check post are authorized to check the weight of goods being carried and also examine the vehicle documents. They can also penalize for offences like broken or damaged headlights and non-standard license plates.
In late 1999, to improve the situation at 10 remote interstate border check posts, the Transport Department of the Government of Gujarat redesigned the processes at the check posts. Large yards were created at the check posts and processes of inspection and estimation were mechanized by deploying electronic weighbridges, video cameras and computers. Such modernized check posts called the Computerized Interstate Check Posts (CICP) were created at all the10-interstate sites.
The main stakeholder of the system, the state government, has benefited quite significantly from the project. The technology at CICP has enabled 100% checking of vehicles and remarkably enhanced the revenue collections from Rs.56 crores to Rs.237 crores already in the first three years. Thus, it can be said that one of the main objectives of the system has been well accomplished. However, while the revenues from each check post have shot up, the leakage has apparently not been plugged totally. Unaccounted money is still collected from check posts from about 36% of vehicles by collecting less than 10% of official penalty charges. This could indicate poor monitoring and misuse of technology.
The RTO Inspectors opine that there are shorter queues after computerization and much time is saved. The inspectors perceive that 25 to 30% of vehicles are overloaded and there is no shift in this pattern even after computerization.
Due to the transparency introduced by the system, incidents of conflicts with the drivers have also declined considerably. They perceive a reduction in their workload, after the introduction of the computerized system.
The Inspectors were asked to grade the processes before and after computerization, on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being the lowest grade). With regard to the Impact on Processing, the Inspectors perceive that there is a significant shift (from 2 to 4 on the 5 point scale) in all the components in processing, post computerization. That is, weighing and computing, collection of fine, issuing receipts, transparency, workload, and overall effectiveness has all improved to a great extent. However, two of the inspectors have stated that the workload has remained the same or increased with the introduction of the computerized system.
About 700-800 vehicles are checked in a span of 8 hours, at each check post. In the manual system the inspectors were able to check only about 15 to 20 vehicles in a shift of 8 hours.
The average time taken for weighing of vehicles, bill preparation, and checking of documents was about 1.5 to 2 hours, on the average, in the traditional system. Under the CICP, as per the feedback from RTO Inspectors, it takes about 5 to 10 minutes to accomplish the same tasks.
Furthermore, the inspectors perceive that the impact on drivers is also quite favorable. The confidence of drivers in the system rose from 1 or 2 to 4 or 5 (on a scale of 1 to 5) in the new system. One inspector has stated that preparedness (payment, etc) of drivers has come down somewhat, in the new system.
Finally, most drivers have expressed satisfaction at the swiftness of the procedure, caused by the introduction of electronic weighbridges. Moreover the waiting lanes and parking sites are a value addition to the new system. The pre-paid card system allows drivers to travel with little cash on hand. Establishment costs have long been met and revenue collections have shown a rapid increase. Within a year of its establishment the system managed to pay for itself.