The Department of Transport and Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) faces a significant backlog in driver licences, with an estimated 1.3 million expired licences across the country as of August.
To address this, RTMC chief executive Makhosini Msibi says the authority is working on several short-term interventions that will significantly boost licence centre capacity around the country.
While this will include additional staff and longer operating hours, Msibi said that the RTMC and the department are also working on several technology-focused interventions, including an electronic eye-testing interface with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA).
This system will allow medical professionals to submit eye tests and other important medical documents online directly onto the department’s systems.
He said that the new system would also help stop corruption at licence centres, with as many as 30% of corruption-related arrests at licence centres relating to bogus medical documentation.
Msibi said that the department’s fingerprinting systems have also been integrated with the Home Affairs database, which would reduce the required number of visits to the licence centres.
Together, these interventions would increase the renewal capacity by almost 50%, he said.
Transport minister Fikile Mbalula has also committed to a significant IT and tech overhaul at driving licence testing centres across South Africa to reduce wait times.
Answering in a written parliamentary Q&A, Mbalula said this would include replacing live enrolment/live capture units with ‘smart enrolment units’ throughout the country.
These units are used for eye-testing and other functions when renewing or applying for a driver licence in South Africa. Mbalula said that the project would first commence in Gauteng and be incorporated into the online booking system.