This post should be read for those who are going to be getting their drivers licenses soon. The system has changed. No more 10,000 one day methods. The system is fighting back.
So firstly weerahara is somewhere near Borlasgamuwa or before it, im not really sure. But its quite a ride if you live in Colombo. I don’t its actually quite close from my place.
You have to go there early in the morning. But before going there you have to keep ready a certain number of things.
An original of your birth certificate, Your ID, Your medical report (which you can get outside) and photocopies of both your ID and birth certificate.
So you go there early in the morning. Somewhere around 8AM is the best time. They only allow 600 people in per day. And by 10AM the 600 are up and the gates are closed.
Day 1 – Registration
So once you get in you have to stand in line. The first line is so that you can actually get through the gates. There are 2 lines. One for license renewals and what not, and a shorter line for new applicants.
The gates open at 10AM and they start sending people in batches. So now from the line outside the gate you form a line inside the gate so that you can get inside the building. Once you get inside the building and to the counter its probably an hour.
At the counter they check if all your documents are in order and they give you a number. Mine was 3013. The going number was 1000 odd. And they were taking 20 people at a time.
It was easily going to take more than 2 hours so I headed out to the canteen to get myself a drink. Guess what I found there? Another line.
Its around noon when the finally called my number and i headed over to the other side and sat myself down at one of the desks. The woman there checked my details, took my picture (with my god-awful beard) with this desk camera. I was quite suprised I did not expect that. We’re evolving…
The first thing she did was mistake my height. On the paper it says 6 feet and 6 inches. Im 4 inches shorter than that. And she can’t change it cause once its printed out its final. So I made her change it with pen so that they can change it at the next station. This was all on the application form which I had to fill.
Its the usual mumbo jumbo that they ask. Name, DOB, address etc. The only thing that matters is the class of the vehicles you plan on driving. Don’t get that wrong. The problem with a fully computerized system is that its all in English. Not the whole country learnt in English the politicians in the 60’s made sure of that and so many people had no idea what was on that paper. I helped around 4 people fill their applications before I could do mine.
The final line was the line to submit your form and to set a date for the written exam. Mine was 2 weeks away and they gave me the test details then and there.
Despite how advanced the systems are with the bar codes and the serials and the instant scaners and laser printers. There still is a software glitch. No matter what class you apply for, on the paper it will say “Three Wheel Tractor” below the class you applied for.
Thats day one. Takes roughly about 5-6 hours to get your date of the written test.
Day 2 – Written Test
The second time its alot simpler. After setting a date and time on the first day you can just waltz in with the paper that they gave you. My exam was at 11.30 so just to be on safe side I came at 10.45. You can never know with Sri Lankan watches.
Again you have to wait for your turn. Obviously since its been put in the paper. About 20 mins before you have to sit for the paper they ask all the people of a certain timeslot to give in their form papers. They give it back to you later after they attach the answer sheet to the back. They call out your name, you take your sheet and go inside and find yourself a seat.
The hall is large, painted in a hospital blue. There are about 3 examiners. One gets on the mic and explains the rules and what not. Then he asks the people doing english to put their hands up. Up went my hand and they deliver me the question booklet from an old suitcase..
40 questions, 1 hour and 30 mins. I’m done with an hour to go. Its quite simple if you had studied the book and had some knowledge of driving. Also a question is repeated twice. 8 and 16 if im not mistaken.
So you do the test and you come out all proud and happy. Then you realize. You got to wait till they mark it. You could come and pick it up later. But its easier to do it all in one day. So after about 1 hour and 30 mins they finish making the papers. Those who passed get a drivers permit which allows you to drive as long as you have L boards on the vehicle and a licensed driver next to you.
To get the L boards its another fun procedure. But you’ve been here long enough to know the place like the back of your hand. You go to the cashiers counter. Pay for your L boards (Rs.300/=), stick it on your form and give it to the desk adjoining the written examiners office. Here the woman sets your driving date and gives you the L boards which you have to return when you come for your driving test. Oh and the driving test takes place a minimum of 3 months after you’ve done your written.
Thats how far i’ve gotten when it comes to obtaining my drivers license. Its a good system. Its full proof. There are a little bit of bugs that need to be weeded out but that can be done in due time. The language this is still a problem. The should have the forms printed in all 3 languages. Last time i checked that was possible. This system makes it bribe proof as the computers record everything. Though I’ve heard there are shortcuts available…
Its quite amazing how Sri Lanka has advanced so far in this little time. Once i do my driving test (which is in NOVEMBER!) I’ll blog about my experience there.