New smart driver’s licence card is ‘imminent’

Transport department says audit process is the last hurdle

11 June 2024 - 09:36
By Motoring Reporter
Transport minister Sindisiwe Chikunga missed the April 2024 deadline to introduce the new card.
Image: Supplied Transport minister Sindisiwe Chikunga missed the April 2024 deadline to introduce the new card.

The department of transport says it is “at the brink” of launching the delayed new smart card driver’s licence, but has not provided a date.

Government missed a deadline to roll out the new cards and a printing machine at the end of April, blaming the challenges of finding a suitable service provider.

In May, transport minister Sindisiwe Chikunga said the department was at the tail end of procuring a new machine from France which would release licence cards within five working days, compared to about 14 days for the current system. After missing the April cut-off date she said by the end of May the department would be printing new driving licences, but that deadline was also missed.

Department spokesperson Collen Msibi said with the evaluation and adjudication of bids completed, the department is close to announcing a new dawn in the driving licence card environment, with the audit process the last hurdle standing in the way.

“Cabinet gave a go-ahead to produce a new driving licence card for the country on August 30 2022, and the department embarked on its first attempt to source a service provider to deliver a turnkey solution. The bid was advertised on November 10 2022 but was unsuccessful, resulting in readvertisement on April 5 2023,” said Msibi.

“The above bid closed on May 5 2023, and owing to its technical complexity, the bid continues to be under consideration, which requires the department to adhere to prescribed supply chain management regulations. With the evaluation and adjudication of the bid completed, the bid is undergoing standard and required departmental probity/audit processes. The department cannot finalise the bid process until the above is completed.

“The department pleads for patience as it is prohibited by law not to poke its nose into the affairs of the bidding committees. In compliance with the rules and regulations on tender processes, the department can therefore not be characterised as lacking transparency.”

The current driver's licence card and the equipment used to produce it was due to have been decommissioned on April 1 2024, as announced by former transport minister Fikile Mbalula. He said there would be a five-year period of transition from the old card to the new one, and the current cards would continue to be recognised as valid until March 31 2029.

The current licence card was introduced in 1998 but the printer has been prone to breakdowns, leading to countrywide backlogs for renewals.

The updated licences are said to have greater security features, including intricate watermarks and user biometrics to store data, which should make it harder to illegally modify or produce counterfeit cards.