Protesters disrupt driving licence testing centres in Gauteng
National Driving School Association wants online licence booking system scrapped
Driving licence testing centres (DLTCs) around Gauteng are being disrupted on Friday by members of the National Driving School Association of SA (NDSASA).
The protesters seek to put brakes on the online driving licence booking system in Gauteng, saying it is not working for independent driving schools or their customers.
The protest action follows NDSASA handing a memorandum to the department of transport on February 15 to have the online booking system scrapped, saying it’s created backlogs, as bookings can be made online only once a week.
Driving schools have found it difficult to make online bookings for their customers, Moss Letsholo, the association's spokesperson, told TimesLIVE.
He said the transport department failed to meet the association’s demands, which is why it embarked on Friday’s protest to shut down DLTCs in Gauteng.
“We can’t get dates as driving school operators, and it’s affecting not only us but the public too. There’s a backlog in the system - it’s not working and it should be scrapped,” he said.
The protest started at the Sandton DLTC early on Friday morning, with a few dozen protesters blocking the premises with their cars and preventing the public from entering.
At about 8.30am the protesters left Sandton, with a spokesperson saying they were next headed for the Midrand and Langlaagte testing centres.
It seemed the same group of protesters were going from centre to centre rather than simultaneous protests taking place at Gauteng's DLTCs. It is uncertain whether the centres reopened once the protesters left, but calls to several Gauteng testing centres on Friday morning went unanswered.
According to a plan of action by the NDSASA, other DLTCs that would be targeted on Friday included Waltloo, Centurion, Mabopane, Hammanskraal, Westonaria, Carletonville, Kempton Park, Randburg, Xavier Junction, Benoni, Boksburg, Brakpan, Tsakane, Germiston, Kagiso and Kungwini.
Since 2018 Gauteng motorists have no longer been able to walk into a testing centre and book for their learner's or driver's licences. The transport department and Road Traffic Management Corporation introduced online bookings for learner's and driver's licence tests, renewal of driving licence cards, and public driving permits.
The online bookings were aimed at reducing queues at centres once the system was fully implemented nationwide. However, vehicle owners have been frustrated by a backlog in the Natis online booking system and drivers struggle to get online slots, worsened by bottlenecks caused by the Covid-19 lockdown.
In December the minister of transport extended the grace period to renew expired driving licences until August 31 2021.