Transport minister faces ultimatum over registration system

Continuing problems with the country’s new vehicle registration system, which crashed for the umpteenth time on Wednesday, could see Transport Minister Pavel Dobeš resign by the end of the week. The prime minister warned Mr Dobeš that unless the faulty system was running without complications by Friday, he expected the minister to go.

Pavel Dobeš, photo: CTKPavel Dobeš, photo: CTK The country’s new vehicle registration system presumably should have made it easier for users to register or deregister their cars: in reality it has been a nightmare. Glitches have plagued the electronic system from day one, in this case July 9, when the system was launched. Although beleaguered Transport Minister Pavel Dobeš, the youngest cabinet member, promised that the system would soon be fixed, that hasn’t happened: long delays at registration centres and applications that could not be processed have continued day-after-day due to errors.

On Tuesday, the prime minister’s patience ran out: Petr Nečas said in a statement that the transport minister had until Friday to see the situation corrected, or resign. Equally irked is Mr Dobeš’ party leader, Deputy Prime Minister and head of LIDEM Karolína Peake, who echoed the prime minister’s words, made clear the buck stopped with the minister. She met with Mr Dobeš for an hour.

Karolína Peake, photo: CTKKarolína Peake, photo: CTK “The transport minister is the one responsible and even though to a degree he inherited the situation, the one who answers for the system is the transport minister, in this case Pavel Dobeš.”

If it were up to the opposition, Mr Dobeš would be gone already. The head of the Social Democratic Party Bohuslav Sobotka called problems related to the vehicle registration system “truly frustrating”, saying there was little left for the minister to do but apologise and step down. The minister himself is hanging on: on Tuesday he said that key corrections to the faulty system would be resolved in time. If not, he will do as the prime minister demands.

“I discussed this with both the prime minister and my party leader: as far as the registration of individual vehicles goes, if that is not up-and-running by Friday, I will resign.”

The vehicle registration office in Ústí nad Labem, photo: CTKThe vehicle registration office in Ústí nad Labem, photo: CTK The latest reports suggest the system could take years to fully fix, while the company behind the work, ATS Telcom must still be paid a promised 37 million crowns. Whether Mr Dobeš will be able to oversee significant improvement in the system is an open question. If he does depart over the vehicle registration debacle, though, he probably won’t be alone: already one key figure has been fired; others involved at various levels at the ministry, could follow.

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