The Department of Transport has extend the validity period of licences that expired during the lockdown, to the end of November.
The department said in a statement on Thursday that the validity period for all public transport operating licences and accreditation certificates for tourist services that expired during the lockdown period will be deemed valid for a further period of 90 days.
“This is to enable the Provincial Regulatory Entities (PREs) and the National Public Transport Regulator (NPTR) sufficient time to deal with the backlog and allow affected operators to renew their operating licenses and accreditation certificate for tourist services,” it said.
The three month extension period has been welcomed by the Automobile Association (AA), who noted that the extension applies to all Learner’s Licences, driver’s licences, motor vehicle licence discs, temporary permits, roadworthy certificates and professional driving permits (PrDPs).
The AA launched a petition last week calling for the validity period to be extended beyond 31 August to the end of January 2021 to give motorists enough time to renew their documents, and to provide some space to Driving Licence Testing Centres (DLTCs) to deal with backlogs, and prepare for new submissions.
The AA said that the Transport Department director-general, Alec Moemi, acknowledged the challenges at DLTCs. These include working with reduced staff and being intermittently shut down due to Covid-19.
“The extension to the end of November is a great start, and we certainly welcome this move by the Department of Transport. It’s the correct decision, and indicates that the department is aware of the problems motorists are facing.
“However, we still believe this does not provide enough time to deal with the backlogs and we will continue with our petition which seeks extension until at least the end of January next year,” said Willem Groenewald, chief executive officer of the AA.
“We applaud the department for taking a pragmatic approach to this issue, and for acknowledging problems at the DLTCs. Now that we have reached this point, we think it is vital to press ahead with our call for a further extension; the interests of the motorists must be protected and we cannot stop until we have reached our goal of an extension to at least the end of January 2021,” said Groenewald.
Groenewald called for the current extension to the end of November, to be extended to at least the end of January next year.
“Our proposed extension date also makes provision for the closure of DLTCs over the festive period, and for further potential closures as a result of Covid-19,” Groenewald said.
In support of the minister resolving the problems, the AA has offered its national network of agents to assist drivers renew their licences.
The association said that the minister should consider allowing third party agents – such as the AA – to perform vehicle disc and driving licence card renewal services which are currently only offered through the DLTCs and the Post Office.