If there is a line to gain admittance to Heaven, Costa Ricans will be the only persons not surprised. Thursday, the leading newspaper La Nacion reported that 20,000 Ticos call each day to find out if they can get a driver’s exam.

79902_620The practical driver’s exam is, of course, a requisite to getting a license but the highway security agency, Cosevi, is in no hurry, it seems, to turn a new crop of drivers loose on the road.

Of the thousands of callers,only 500 succeed in getting on the list and Cosevi admits that it has had to transfer five employees from other duties just to handle calls. That means Cosevi can test only 2,500 would-be drivers per week.

Carlos Rivas, Cosevi legal counsel, blames part of the problem on a primitive call center, but did not answer the main question — why not hire more examiners to clear out the backlog?

Traffic Police says that the most common ticket given out is lack of a driver’s license, a ¢99,000 colones (US$200) fine. German Marin, chief of the Traffic Police, says that more than a thousand drivers are caught per month, mostly drivers far from the capital.

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Veronica Sacaray recounted to La Nacion how she called all day, week after week. “After much begging and including nearly crying recounting my odyssey,” she told Facebook readers, “I finally got an appointment for my brother. Granted, he has to go all the way to Liberia, but when I got the appointment, I accepted.”

Cosevi’s Carlos Rivas admits the real problem — his agency simply doesn’t have the number
of instructors it needs. There are only 30 of them, 10 to 12 in San Jose and the rest scattered in a dozen centers throughout the country.

Each test takes 25 or 30 minutes. Rivas, in a demonstration of bureaucratic helplessness, pleaded with driver to be patient.


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