There was an accumulation of 383,000 driver’s license cards as of December 1 due to a breakdown of the driver’s license card production machine.
The Department of Transportation (DoT) only expects the machine to be repaired to full functionality by the end of the month, which means this delay will increase further.
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The DoT has also confirmed that the breakdown in the machine occurred on November 7, 17 days earlier than previously reported.
Moneyweb reported on Wednesday that there had been a breakdown in the machine since November 24.
Read: More Driver’s License Headaches for Motorists
This was based on two letters signed by Sandiso Thutshini, acting director of the Driver’s License Card Account (DLCA) entity, which were sent to the managers of the Driver’s License Test Center (DLTC) to inform them of the breakdown. of the card machine.
The first letter, dated Nov. 25, said that “there is currently a backlog of driver’s license cards due to the breakdown of a failed production machine” and that the DLCA was “taking care of this matter.”
The second letter, dated December 9, added: “The challenge with the production machine breakdown is not yet resolved. The DLCA understands the frustration created by this situation and the team is working hard to resolve this issue. ”
The DoT was unable to respond to a list of questions in time for its response to be included in the first Moneyweb article on the machine breakdown.
In a response received Wednesday night, it said that the DLCA had experienced a malfunction in the card-making machine and that “interested parties have been informed accordingly.”
The Defense Department stated that a press release “was also issued to that effect.”
Moneyweb is not aware of any media statement that has been released regarding the machine breakdown and has not been able to locate any media statement on the matter on the DoT website.
The DoT in its response to Moneyweb added: “The machine failure occurred on November 7, 2021 and the team is working hard to address the issue.
“The breakdown was hardly due to lack of maintenance, as the last routine maintenance was carried out in October 2021.
“The breakdown occurred as a result of a flood in a building adjacent to the production plant. This caused an electrical surge that caused damage to the machine, ”said the DoT.
“The team is doing everything possible to restore the machine to full functionality by December 31, 2021.”
The DoT further noted that:
The machine was installed “quite a few years ago”;
It is the only machine that produces driving license cards in South Africa;
It was imported from France; Y
At that time, it was purchased at a price related to the market through an open bidding process.
Regarding how it plans to manage the order book reduction, the DoT said: “As of December 1, there is an order book of 383,000 cards and the DLCA has the capacity to produce around 300,000 [300 000] cards in a period of one month.
“This gives the DLCA the peace of mind that buildup will be removed as quickly as possible once the machine is back up and running. The DLCA will implement shifts and overtime work to address the current backlog that is being experienced, ”he said.
It appears that the delay referred to by the DoT relates only to the driver’s license cards that could not be produced due to the breakdown of the machine; It does not appear to include the delay in the renewal and issuance of licenses caused by the hard blockade of Covid-19 at the end of March 2020.
Arrears related to the blockade
Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula confirmed in August that 42.4% or 1.2 million licenses had not yet been renewed nationwide out of a total of 2.8 million licenses that have expired since March 26. 2020.
Reacting to the chaos at DLTCs and the inability of drivers to obtain online reservations to renew their driver’s licenses,
- Mbalula at the same time announced a new extension of the validity period of driving licenses that expired during the Covid-19 closures.
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 that ends on March 31, 2022 ”.
Mbalula also announced a series of measures to reduce the delay in the renewal of the driver’s license, including the opening of two DLTCs operated by Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC), which would operate seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and they would add 35,380 renewal spaces per month. and increase Gauteng’s ability to renovate spaces by 48%.
‘Incorrect and unfair’
The Automobile Association and the Organization Undo Fiscal Abuse (Outa) have openly criticized how the breakdown of the machine has been managed and the lack of information provided to the public.
The organizations believe that a further extension of the validity of driving licenses will be necessary due to the increase in accumulation and that it is wrong and unfair to expect that drivers who have applied for a driving license renewal on time will have to pay for a temporary license. . license.
The DoT’s specific comments on machine maintenance are a response to criticism from Outa CEO Wayne Duvenage that the machine breakdown 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.