Outa asks Mbalula to rethink deadline for renewing driving licences amid backlog, inefficiencies

23 August 2021 - 16:50 By Motoring Staff
Motorists are growing increasingly frustrated with the licence renewal system that's been negatively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and government inefficiencies.
Motorists are growing increasingly frustrated with the licence renewal system that's been negatively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and government inefficiencies.
Image: Supplied

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) has called on transport minister Fikile Mbalula to extend the deadline for renewing driving licences that expired between March 26 and December 31 2020.

The deadline of August 31 is fast approaching, but the government seems to be unmoved by the plight of thousands of motorists who have been battling to renew their driving licences. These motorists will be forced to disobey the law if the government is unwilling to grant another extension on the deadline for renewal.

The Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) recently acknowledged that there is a significant backlog when it comes to the renewal of driving licences.

Outa has received numerous complaints from motorists, highlighting the frustration encountered when attempting to renew a driving licence.

Frustrations with the licence renewal system have been around for years – especially in Gauteng. While the government has blamed the Covid-19 pandemic for the inefficiencies in the renewal process as well as motorists not renewing in time, the underlying problems of administrative inefficiencies existed before the pandemic. These include an ineffective online booking system, broken eye testing and fingerprinting machines, and corruption.

This was made worse by Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, which reduced capacity in driver licence testing centres.

“We find it preposterous that government expect citizens to be law-abiding on driving licences when the very process they are expected to follow is defunct, ineffective and broken,” said Outa’s CEO Wayne Duvenage.

Duvenage said modern governments are supposed to implement efficient processes that make it easier for citizens to comply with laws. “Instead, our government seems unconcerned with the frustrations motorists are experiencing when trying to book tests for new licences or for licence renewals.”

Motorists cannot take the blame for inefficiencies that should have been addressed by the department of transport a long time ago, he said.

“The broken system that government is relying on has not been addressed since the state introduced an eight-month extension to licence renewal deadlines, and they will have no option but to extend the August 31 deadline again.”

Outa believes the licensing problem is an extension of the department of transport’s inability to get on top of myriad administrative and other issues relating to the motoring public, including:

  • the defunct e-toll scheme;
  • the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act (Aarto);
  • the inaccurate eNaTIS vehicle registry system;
  • unroadworthy vehicles;
  • high road fatalities; and
  • the Road Accident Fund debacle.

According to the organisation, the state needs to engage meaningfully with all stakeholders to find practical solutions to the driving licence renewal process. One of the most practical suggestions proposed by Outa in recent months is to extend the period of validity for renewed driving licences from five to 10 years, a process applied in many countries around the world.

In the meantime, it urged motorists to do everything they can to renew their driving licences before the extension period lapses on August 31.