Transport minister Fikile Mbalula has raised concerns about the number of drivers on South Africa’s roads without valid licence discs or driving licences, saying that no further extensions will be given to the Covid-19 grace periods already delivered.
In a media briefing on Friday (30 April), Mbalula said that the government extended the grace period for both licences and discs in 2020 due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, which resulted in licencing centres being shut down.
However, he said that a large number of people have failed to renew their documentation on time, despite this – with the problem most clearly seen in Gauteng.
“Out of the 2,465,439 vehicle licence discs that expired between 26 March 2020 and 31 August 2020, 90.3% were renewed,” he said.
“A total of 239,087 vehicles without valid licence discs (are) on our roads. Gauteng’s percentage of vehicle disc renewals stands at 89.6%, below a national average of 90.6%.”
Similarly, out of the 4,856,636 vehicle licence discs that expired between 30 September 2020 and 31 January 2021, Gauteng accounts for 85.4% renewal, below a national average of 86.1%, he said.
“In a nutshell, of the 7.1 million vehicles due for renewal between March 2020 and January 2021, 6.3 million have been renewed. Out of the 900,000 discs that have yet to be renewed, 250,000 of these are in Gauteng.”
Mbalula acknowledged that part of this delay falls at the feet of the government, with licensing centres in Gauteng facing numerous complaints.
“We are gravely concerned that preliminary investigations suggest that corruption is the principal driver of lack of availability of booking slots in various Driving Licence Testing Centres across Gauteng.
“Learner and Driver licencing remain a pervasive challenge, particularly in Gauteng.”
He added that the difficulties experienced by citizens in booking slots through the online platform is a ‘serious cause for concern’.
Mbalula said that his department will take decisive action against these complaints and root out corrupt officials. It would also focus on other issues, such as eye testing and related infrastructure.
He said that his department was also giving serious consideration to extending the operating hours of Driving Licence Testing Centres.
In his presentation, Mbalula confirmed that the grace periods for expired licences and vehicle discs have not been extended, and motorists are required to comply with the law.
This period has not been extended beyond this date and motorists are expected to comply with the law and renew their vehicle licence discs.
Validity of learner’s licences, driving licence cards, temporary driving licences and professional driving permits that expired during…
— |Mr Fix (@MbalulaFikile) April 30, 2021
The grace period for the following licences ended on 31 August 2020:
- Vehicle licence discs;
- Temporary permits;
- Roadworthy certificates;
- This is for such licences that expired between 26 March 2020 up to 31 May 2020.
The grace period for the following licences will end on 31 August 2021:
- Learner’s licences
- Driver’s licence cards;
- Professional driving permits;
- This is for such licences that expired between 26 March 2020 up to 31 December 2020.
“This period has not been extended beyond this date and motorists are expected to comply with the law and renew their vehicle licence discs,” the minister said.