Hours extended as expired driving licences top a million

31 August 2021 - 16:36
Scores of people stand in long queues at the Langlaagte testing centre in Amalgam, Johannesburg, hoping to renew their driving licences.
Scores of people stand in long queues at the Langlaagte testing centre in Amalgam, Johannesburg, hoping to renew their driving licences.
Image: ZIPHOZONKE LUSHABA

The backlog at licence renewal centres has left more than a million South Africans with expired driving licences.

This is according to Road Traffic Management Corporation CEO Makhosini Msibi, who was briefing parliament's transport portfolio committee on Tuesday morning amid frustrations among South Africans, especially in Gauteng, who are battling to get slots to renew their licences.

“The number of total expired licences throughout the country is 1,330,156,” said Msibi. 

He said five provinces — Gauteng, the Western Cape, Mpumalanga, the Free State and the Northern Cape — were lagging with their renewals despite the introduction of an electronic system for eye tests.

The backlog was worsened by the outbreak of Covid-19 last year, which led to the country introducing a hard lockdown in March.

Transport minister Fikile Mbalula then announced a grace period for drivers whose licences had expired during that period. On Tuesday, Mbalula gazetted a further extension of validity for drivers whose licences expired between March 26 2020 and August 31 2021.

The extension also includes learner’s licences, driving licence cards, temporary driving licences and professional driving permits.

Msibi said the department was dealing with the backlog in Gauteng.

“We have in Gauteng dealt with two areas, Diepsloot and the Sandton centre, which will have mobile renewal centres consisting of two buses that we have fitted with all the equipment to ensure they can go to communities and begin to deal with these matters.

“Above all, we have extended operating hours in all provinces,” said Msibi. Offices will be open on Saturdays and until 6pm on weekdays.

Msibi said the department had staffing shortages as a result of unfilled posts. He said Covid-19 deaths and infections had also contributed to the backlog.

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