Driving licence renewal chaos in South Africa

Motorists across South Africa are complaining about problems with the driving licence renewal system, with calls to stop fining motorists for the time being and extending the validity of driving licences.

In a recent letter to MyBroadband, a Cape Town motorist said due to COVID-19 there were only four tellers at the civic centre licence department.

“The line was out the building and it hardly moved. I moved three spots in the line in an hour of standing there,” he said.

“There is an online renewal system, but this system is also broken and is only available to people who still have a valid driver’s licence.”

This complaint is not unique. Many people in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, and other provinces have similar complaints.

“The online booking system is seriously flawed. There are never slots available. My driver’s licence expires in October and there is no way I will be able to renew by then,” one user said.

“We were turned away at Bedfordview by the security guard for not having booked online. The queues at Edenvale were unbelievable.”

Another motorist said they have been trying to get a slot for a month without any success.

When a few slots finally open, he went through the process to get his OTP but then received a message that the slot is not available anymore.

“I can’t believe this is acceptable. I feel like we should take a stand or do something to change this,” he said.

Apart from the broken online booking system and poor service delivery, there is another problem – driving schools in cahoots with officials who hijack the system.

The Citizen reported that “availability for the online slots was being probed after driving schools grabbed most of the spots and left little to no slots for the public”.

Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) spokesperson Simon Zwane told the newspaper they were dealing with the problem of driving schools colluding with officials.

Calls for changes to the system

The Automobile Association (AA) and the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) have called for urgent changes to the driver’s licence renewal process.

The AA has called for an immediate moratorium on fining motorists without renewed driving licences and for steps to be taken to fix the current renewal processes.

“It’s an absurd situation where motorists cannot renew their discs or cards and are then stopped and fined for not having done so,” the AA said.

The organisation said it has become critical that alternatives to the current renewals processes are implemented.

“Not only must third-party agents such as the AA be allowed to renew driving licence cards, but the current system needs a dramatic overhaul, and quickly,” it said.

OUTA, in turn, wants Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula to change the driver’s licence validity period from five to 10 years.

“This should save the SA consumer and government time and money as well as improve the administration and manageability of the renewal process by the state,” it said.

It also asked for a more efficient online application process for driver’s licence renewals which precedes the actual renewal.

This, OUTA said, will allow for more effective service delivery and flow between the appointment, eye test, and licence delivery.

It further supported the AA’s call to make multiple methods for driver’s licence renewal available through testing centres and reputable service providers.

Long queues for driving licence renewals

The photos below show the long queues at a licence renewal centres (see video here).

Now read: Driving licence renewal problem in South Africa

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Driving licence renewal chaos in South Africa