The government should use the extended grace period for driving licences to arrange a long-term solution to the country’s licence cards problem, says civil society group Outa.
This comes after Transport minister Fikile Mbalula announced that driving licences which expired during the Covid pandemic will now be valid until 15 April 2022.
All learner’s licences, driving licence cards, temporary driving licences and professional driving permits that expire during the period that commenced from 26 March 2020 up to and including 31 March 2022 are deemed to be valid and their validity periods are extended for a further grace period ending on 15 April 2022
The extension includes not only the group who were previously granted an extension but also those whose licences expired after that, who were also caught up in the departmental inability to process licence applications and renewals.
Outa said this 15-day extension is unlikely to be enough to address the country’s backlog of more than 1.4 million driving licence cards but should give the government time to formalise long-term arrangements such as the introduction of a 10-year driving licence card.
“We urge the minister to engage with civil society and other stakeholders to address the impediments and design flaws that still exist within the online booking system,” said Outa chief executive Wayne Duvenage.
“We furthermore urge the minister to make a decision on increasing the driver’s licence validity period from five to 10 years, which is common international practice and will go a long way to improving efficiency within government. The public should not have to go through this renewal process every five years.”
Mbalula has confirmed that the government is finalising a proposal around the introduction of a 10-year driving licence.
Briefing media on Friday (1 April), Mbalula said discussions around the proposal are expected to be concluded by the end of April 2022.
“As part of our engagements with various stakeholders, the validity period of driving licence cards has been mooted as one of the options we should consider. We have commissioned the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) to undertake research on possible changes to the renewal time-frames.
“Various countries in the continent have renewal periods that range from two to five years and a number of other countries require renewal at anything from six to 15 years, while others have integrated the driving licence into their identity cards.”
Mbalula said the research will look at the correlation between the renewal period and safety on the country’s roads and what factors should be taken into account if we are to revise the current five-year validity period. “This work is already underway and will be concluded by 30 April 2022.”