Saturday, January 22

More driving license headaches for motorists

South African motorists will face more headaches from renewing their driver’s license.

This follows the breakdown since November 24 of the “sick card production machine” that produces driver’s license cards, which means that no new driver’s license cards have been produced for the last three weeks.

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Two letters signed by Sandiso Thutshini, acting director of the Driver’s License Card Account (DLCA) entity, were sent to the managers of the Driver’s License Testing Center (DLTC) to inform them about the card machine breakdown. .

This could result in the Department of Transportation having to once again extend the validity period of driver’s licenses that expired during the Covid-19 pandemic shutdowns.

Both the Automobile Association (AA) and the Organization to Undo Fiscal Abuse (Outa) indicated Tuesday that they believe a further extension of the validity of driver’s licenses will be necessary.

Applicants should be ‘encouraged’ to obtain temporary licenses

Thutshini’s first letter to DLTC managers dated November 25 with the subject ‘Card Production Backlog Notice’ read: “The DLCA informs its stakeholders that there is currently a backlog of driver’s license cards due to the breakdown of the faulty production machine. . The DLCA is currently dealing with this matter.

“In the meantime, the Driver’s License Examination Centers (DLTC) are being asked to encourage applicants to apply for a temporary driver’s license card.

“We apologize for the inconvenience caused and we thank the DLTCs for their continued support and understanding during this time.”

The second letter, dated December 9, with the subject ‘Card Production Backlog Update’ read: “On November 24, 2021, the DLCA reported a card production backlog due to the breakdown of the card production machine. sick card production. The challenge with the breakdown in the production machine is not yet solved. The DLCA understands the frustration created by this situation and the team is working hard to resolve this issue. ”

Moneyweb is in possession of a copy of both letters.

Moneyweb emailed the Department of Transportation on Monday a list of questions related to the matter, but had not provided an answer when this article was published.

Already sizable buildup will get worse

The breakdown of the machine will worsen the already high delay in the renewal and issuance of licenses after the harsh blockade of Covid-19 at the end of March 2020.

The Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula, confirmed in August this year that at the national level 42.4% or 1.2 million licenses have not been renewed out of a total of 2.8 million licenses that have expired since 26 December. March 2020.

In August, Mbalula also announced a further extension of the validity period for driver’s licenses that expired during the Covid-19 shutdowns until the end of March 2022.

In terms of the extension, all learners licenses, driver’s license cards, temporary driver’s licenses and professional driving licenses that expired during the period starting from March 26, 2020 to August 31, 2021 inclusive, “They are considered valid and their validity periods are extended by an additional grace period ending on March 31, 2022.”

Mbalula also announced a series of measures to reduce the delay in the renewal of the driver’s license, including increasing the capacity of DLTC by opening two DLTCs operated by Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC), which were to operate seven days of the week from 07:00 to 21:00. and adding 35,380 renovation spaces per month and increasing Gauteng’s capacity for renovation spaces by 48%.


The Department of Transportation received a warning of the breakdown when the machine broke down in January 2020, causing a backlog of at least 124,000 driver’s license cards nationwide.

DA deputy and transportation portfolio committee member Chris Hunsinger warned the department about the lack of a backup plan during a supervisory visit in 2019, according to a media report.

Hunsinger also reportedly said that the machine should have been replaced years ago and that the more than R640 million from the 2018/2019 transport budget that was not spent could have been used for this.

Maputla Makgatho of the DLCA was quoted at the time as saying in a interview with eNCA that the machine is over 20 years old and the department will issue a tender to acquire a new machine during the 2020/2021 fiscal year.

‘They are always fighting fires’

Outa CEO Wayne Duvenage said it is “pathetic” that motorists have not been notified of the problem and that it is “wrong and unfair” to expect motorists who have applied for their driver’s license renewal on time to have to pay for a temporary license.

“If we had a customer-centric department, an announcement would have been made telling people what’s going on if they hadn’t fixed it in the first few days and realized it would take more time,” he said.

Duvenage said the machine breakdown also highlights the government’s mindset on maintenance and contingency planning.

“They are always fighting fires and they are not properly maintained even on the roads and equipment,” he said.

Duvenage said the machine breakdown can result in a further extension of the validity of expired driver’s licenses and add another dimension to accumulation problems in DLTCs.

License validity is likely to be extended

AA spokesman Layton Beard said the breakdown of the machine and the additional delays and driver license delays it will cause are “extremely concerning.”

Beard does not see how failure of the machine will not lead to an extension of the validity period of driving licenses.

“You have a situation where the Minister of Transport said that the problems would be solved by the end of March.

“They have opened new test centers, they have a mobile test center, they have increased the operating hours of some of the DLTCs and they have made an effort to overcome the paperwork.

“But many of these people will not get temporary licenses because they may not be able to afford them,” he said.

Beard also questioned how long the temporary licenses will last and how long it will take to repair the machine.

“Is this problem going to lead to a five-week accumulation, a six-week accumulation, a six-month accumulation? We do not know.

“If he is sick, he is problematic. That speaks to the larger problem AA has said over and over again that you can’t fix a sick system.

“You need to boot up the existing system and replace it with something efficient and working,” he said.

Beard criticized that there has been no announcement about the problem, adding that the department is showing “contempt for the South African public.”

He said the machine breakdown should be viewed in the context of the RTMC running a surplus of R262 billion in its 2020 financial year.

“Surely there could have been some funding to improve or replace that sick machine,” he said.

“You also have to wonder where that money is going and why is it not being used to subsidize temporary licenses because of this problem.”

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