There’s no better way than to privatize

MOTORING TODAY - Ray Butch Gamboa - The Philippine Star

This can’t be the norm as day in and day out we can see obviously ill-maintained and derelict vehicles or “rolling coffins” on city streets and rural roads – smoke-belchers, and rickety rust basins. And reports of accidents involving vehicles that allegedly had mechanical failures or defective brakes have become commonplace. And all these just because there has been a systems failure among government agencies tasked to govern motor vehicles in the country, which has been handed down from one administration to another.

In this columnist’s years of coverage of the country’s transportation and traffic management the issue of not having a capable motor vehicle inspection system (MVIS) has hounded the government. There was a time when there were only three MVIS centers in the country covering hundreds of thousands of motor vehicles, but sadly with two of which were not working. And reports have it that was during the better times, as right now there is none.

The present government is moving to authorize qualified private entities to conduct inspection of vehicles and certify them as roadworthy as a requirement for renewal of registration.

The idea to privatize the MVIS has long been proposed after it became clear that the handful of government’s own Motor Vehicle Inspection Centers — which never truly became operational or when operational were never effective in ensuring that only roadworthy vehicles get to be registered or get its registration renewed periodically.

Recently, news reports said that Department Order No. 2018-19 has been issued that sets guidelines for the accreditation of privately-owned and operated motor vehicle inspection centers.

Reports have it that the Department of Transportation (DOTr) will grant authority to “Filipino natural and juridical persons or entities to conduct the MVIS testing as a requirement for renewal of registration, which shall be valid for a period of five years from the issuance of an Authorization Certificate and renewable for another five years.”

Reports also said the order also sets standards for financial capacity and track record for vehicle inspection that any would-be private inspection center must meet in order to be accredited.

There will be three classes of inspection centers. One is to service light-duty vehicles. Another to service motorcycles. The third is a mobile center that can move from place to place to serve vehicles in remote areas. 

Even before the news reports of the DO on the privatization of vehicle inspection centers came out, DOTr officials have in various forums revealed plans to implement such a policy while explaining the benefits for getting the private sector involved in motor vehicle inspection and the issuance of certification of roadworthiness.

The government is right in saying that the privatization of motor vehicle inspection centers have many benefits.

These include the obvious benefit that government will no longer have to spend for testing equipment, the hiring of people to man these equipment, or even the leasing of land, offices, or property on which these centers will be established. This cost will be shouldered by the private sector.

Arguably, the private sector should be more efficient in operating the centers than if they were left in government hands.

While competition, if government allows this to happen, should breed even more efficiency.

Less obvious is government’s belief that MVIS in private hands should be immune to corruption.

As can be expected, if there are pros to privatization, there are cons.

But I guess those who are in doubt can only look into the present operations of private emission testing centers, which went through very close scrutiny when reports came out that the “no appearance” malpractice was proliferating. A working system was designed to check the loopholes and prevent a possible cradle of corruption and since then it has been working glitch free. This can obviously be done too for the private players.

The question now is not much about the integrity of the system being in the hands of the private sector but more on how the DOTr would conduct the selection of the private entities that would be certified to certify the roadworthiness of vehicles up for registration renewal.

In the midst of these doubts and misgivings, it appears that there are many who support the initiative to get the private sector involved in the Motor Vehicle Inspection System as this would immediately answer the need to put in place an MVIS that rids the streets of unroadworthy, unsafe, polluting and unsightly motor vehicles.

But of course they are praying that the present administration has set guidelines to ensure the selection process is aboveboard and that those chosen have the financial capacity and technical ability to inspect and ensure the roadworthiness of vehicles.

A sector that the government can tap post haste would be the network of gasoline stations of big and medium sized oil companies. These networks of stations come with vehicle service centers that now offer, in essence, a vehicle inspection system to check that vehicles are in good running condition, from the engine and powertrain, to the brake system, windshield wipers, tires, headlights, taillights, and brake lights, etc.

As long as there is a proper and strictly implemented guidelines, as well strict oversight over operations, the privatization of the Motor Vehicle Inspection System, should go a long way toward ensuring only roadworthy vehicles are on the streets, making them safe for all motorists and pedestrians.

Risking redundancy, “There’s no better way than to privatize.”

Happy Motoring!!!

For comments & inquiries email [email protected] or visit www.motoringtoday.ph.

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