Transport minister Fikile Mbalula has announced a number of changes for driver licences in South Africa in an effort to improve efficiencies and resolve challenges in the existing licensing system.
In a media address on Friday (27 August), Mbalula said that some of the major changes will include:
- The establishment of more Driving Licence Testing Centres (DLTCs);
- The introduction of mobile centres and kiosks at busy centres
- Extended operating hours for DLTCs
- The ability of DLTCs to accept online payments
- The submission of eye tests by optometrists directly to NaTIS.
“As part of the rollout of a bouquet of services to improve customer experience, processes to introduce online payments are advanced, and a banking partner has already been appointed,” Mbalula said.
“While we had agreed with the MECs that operating hours of DLTCs must be extended, a number of provinces have experienced challenges relating to overtime. However, significant progress has been made in this regard.”
Mbalula also announced that the validity of licences that expired between 26 March and 31 August 2021 will now be extended to 31 March 2022.
Improvements for Gauteng
Considering that Gauteng poses the biggest challenge due to the large population of motorists and the fact that it remains the only province that has extensively deployed the online booking system, specific actions have been identified to tackle challenges specific to the province, Mbalula said.
Gauteng has experienced serious capacity challenges, which result in, among other things, the non-availability of booking slots to those who intend to renew their licences, the transport minister said.
“In addition to the interventions the province and the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) are making in arresting the corruption that has bedevilled the system, additional capacity will be added through the opening of two Driving Licence Testing Centres operated by the RTMC at Waterfall Park in Midrand and Eco Park in Centurion.
“These two centres will open their doors on 1 October 2021 and will operate seven days a week, from 07h00 to 21h00. The operationalisation of these centres will add 35,380 renewal slots per month and increase Gauteng capacity for renewal slots by 48%,” Mbalula said.
Changes welcomed, but concerns remain
The Automobile Association (AA) said the extension of the validity period of all licences to the end of March 2022 is also a welcome step, but that it remains concerned that the measures may not be implemented in time for those with expired documents to renew them.
“The minister again noted that the problem is not with motorists but with the DLTCs. This is significant as it acknowledges that the system is the problem, not motorists.
“The interventions he has announced must now be put in motion. Our concern is that the timeframes are tight and that many motorists may be stranded without the necessary renewals, forcing yet another extension in March,” the association said.