Civil action group Outa has called on transport minister Fikile Mbalula to extend the deadline for the grace period given to motorists who have been unable to renew their driver’s licences in South Africa.
The group said that the deadline of 31 August 2021 is fast approaching, yet thousands of motorists whose driving licences expired between 26 March and 31 December 2020 have been unable to renew.
“These motorists will be forced to disobey the law if the government is unwilling to grant another extension on the deadline for renewal,” it said.
The Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) recently acknowledged a significant backlog, noting that over 500,000 licences were still not processed.
Outa said it has received numerous complaints from motorists, highlighting the frustration encountered when renewing a driving licence.
“Frustrations with the licence renewal system have been around for a couple of years now – especially in Gauteng – and existed before the Covid-19 pandemic, although the pandemic certainly exacerbated the problem,” it said.
“While the government has blamed the pandemic for the inefficiencies in the renewal process as well as motorists not renewing in time, the real underlying problems of administrative inefficiencies existed before the pandemic.
“This includes an ineffective online booking system, broken eye testing and fingerprinting machines and corruption. This was made worse by Covid-19 lockdowns and reduced capacity in Driver Licence Testing Centres due to Covid-19 restrictions,” it said.
The Democratic Alliance this past week also called on the traffic department to make concessions and changes to handle the backlog.
The party made a slew of proposals that officials can implement to take the frustration out of the renewal process, including scrapping the online booking system to combat corruption and allow motorists to use DLTCs as walk-in centres.
“We find it preposterous that government expect citizens to be law-abiding on driving licences when the very process they are expected to follow is defunct, ineffective and broken,” said Outa CEO Wayne Duvenage.
“The government seems unconcerned with the frustrations that motorists are experiencing when trying to book tests for new licences or licence renewals. Motorists cannot take the blame for gross inefficiencies that should have been addressed by the Department of Transport a long time ago.”