Transport minister Fikile Mbalula says that his department is working on a number of initiatives to improve the experience of drivers, including a number of upgrades to the licensing process.
Responding in a written parliamentary Q&A, Mbalula acknowledged a backlog of 500,000 licences waiting in the system among other licence-related challenges such as renewals.
He said that this backlog and other issues will be addressed through the following changes:
1. Longer working hours
In seven of the nine provinces affected by the backlog, working hours have been extended including operations on Saturdays.
However, challenges relating to overtime is preventing the extension of operating hours in some provinces, he said.
Two self-service kiosks are being prepared for testing at licence centres and should be rolled out by October 2021.
3. Gauteng-specific interventions
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, an email service for Gauteng users who experience difficulties with online bookings and renewing their licences has been activated, Mbalula said.
4. Online payments
Processes are underway to introduce online payments, Mbalula said. He added that discussions are underway for a new system that will allow motorists to make use of private optometrists who will have the authority to upload eye test results directly to the Natis system.
5. Upgraded systems
The interface of live enrolment units with Home Affairs has been completed. This will enable immediate validation of fingerprints at licence centres and reduce delays.
A process to deploy new Natis end-user equipment in all provinces has also started, he said.
6. More licence centres
The RTMC is opening additional DLTCs with more staff working from 07h00 in the morning and ending at 21h00 at night for seven days a week.
This initiative will increase the capacity in Gauteng by 30%. The initiative can be deployed nationally in consultation with the MECs concerned.
7. Extended validity
The department has extended the validity and grace period of all learner’s licences, driving licence cards, temporary driving licences and professional driving permits that expire during the period that commenced from 26 March up to and including 31 August 2021. The new expiration date is now 31 March 2022.