The South African traffic department – which has recently decided to hike the price of vehicle licence discs and waste R5.6 billion on keeping the disastrous e-toll scheme alive - has been sitting on a massive driver’s licence backlog since January.
The delay was said to be caused by striking due to labour disputes, and at the beginning of 2019, the department was reportedly implementing a contingency plan in order to make up for all the time lost.
The Driving Licence Card Account (DLCA) employees had supposedly returned to work – how nice – and were scheduled to print the outstanding licences in the next three weeks.
So much for that, it seems.
The strike may be over, but the DLCA simply hasn’t been able to chip away at the enormous backlog. While the processing of applications for new and renewed licences is decentralised, all cards have to be issued by the DLCA. The DLCA, based in Pretoria, has been unable to effectively handle the backlog.
The delay has impacted motorists all across South Africa; with those in the Western Cape and Gauteng hit hardest. Speaking to BusinessTech, Cape Town’s Executive Director for Safety and Security, Richard Bosman, said that the driving licence cards bottleneck has worsened from 66 000 to 199 000.
Issues with the system can be traced back to July 2018, following four months of industrial action – and then damage caused to the interface between the card production facility and the fiasco of a National Traffic Information System (NaTIS) due to a botched maintenance operation.
Provincial Departments of Transport and Public Works have been on their National counterpart’s case about the issue for some time now – as well as engaging with the DLCA and the RTMC – and while commitments have been made to solve the urgent problem, little progress has been achieved.
In the meanwhile, what happens to the motorists who applied to renew their licences, didn’t receive them, and find themselves caught in a roadblock?
In January, Minister of Transport, Blade Nzimande, said that the department has issued a directive to both provincial and municipal traffic authorities across the country to not penalise any motorists who have not yet received their licences.
Of course, being traffic officials, we can almost expect them to just go ahead and do whatever they want in anyway. So, what if you find yourself in a sticky situation? Let’s take a look at how you can cover all your bases.
If you’ve already been fined for not having a valid drivers’ licence on you, and you’ve applied and just not received it yet, you’ll need to then apply for the ‘revocation of enforcement order’ through the Road Traffic Infringement Agency.
Irritating, isn’t it?
In order to do this you’ll have to:
Nzimande added that motorists who renewed their driving licences three months before expiration will also be exempt from fines – but you’ll have to be able to produce the valid receipt that was given to you upon renewal.
New first-time licence applicants will also be exempt. When applying for your driver’s licence upon passing your test, you’re required to apply for a temporary licence in anyway. However, this temporary licence is only valid for a short while before it expires.
According to Nzimande, these motorists will not be required to reapply for another temporary licence, should it expire, and will be allowed to use the expired temporary licence until the permanent licence arrives. Until that happens, however, motorists will still need to have their temporary licence on them when driving, expired or not, and be able to produce it when requested by a traffic official.
The minister then went on to “earnestly apologise” for the inconvenience the department has put us through.
Well, that makes everything better again.
The DLCA has deigned to implement an SMS shortcode (33214) that will allow all driving licence applicants to check on the status of their applications.
Send your ID Number to 33214 – via old school SMS – and you should receive one of the following messages, depending on the status: