Inefficiencies and glitches in Gauteng’s new online driver licence booking system have led to South Africans becoming increasingly frustrated and unable to renew or apply for their driver’s licences.
The National Driving School Association has staged protests at various licensing centres throughout the province over the past week, complaining about the online booking system.
Speaking to EWN last week, National Driving School Association spokesperson Abel Mositsa said there were no issues with the previous system, but now they are being requested by staff to only book on Tuesdays.
The system is reportedly very slow, and there is a significant backlog of licence renewals and applications to be processed.
This backlog has been present since last year, when Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula blamed the inefficiency on corruption among back-office staff at testing centres.
Many South African motorists have reported that it remains difficult to book a slot for licence renewals using the new online booking system.
RTMC hits back at protestors
In a statement issued on 5 March, the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) condemned the disruption of its services by protestors.
“Whilst the RTMC recognises their democratic right to protest, we strongly condemn action that disrupts the delivery of much-needed services,” it said.
“The Corporation is encouraged that the Gauteng Department of Transport and driving school associations have opened a dialogue and are establishing a structure where any valid concerns can be addressed.”
It added that protestors who disrupt critical services must face the full wrath of the law.
“The RTMC calls for swift action from law enforcement to demonstrate the full might of the law against any individuals who deliberately disrupt much-needed service delivery to members of the public,” the RTMC said.
RTMC working to fix online booking
The RTMC went on to assure South Africans that it remains its top priority to eradicate corruption whilst providing an efficient booking service.
It acknowledged the problems with the online booking platform, however, and said it is working hard to fix the issues.
“The RTMC notes the numerous enquiries from concerned members of the public who are struggling to get slots at DLTCs near them for renewals and bookings and wishes to assure them that the Corporation is working tirelessly to stabilise the platform and make sure, in consultation with the province that all hurdles are cleared to create a seamless booking experience,” the RTMC said.
It lauded the effect of the online booking service in protecting South Africans from COVID-19 and removing the inconvenience of queuing early in the morning to renew or apply for licences.
“The online system has had a positive impact in the fight against COVID-19 as it minimises crowding at DLTCs, particularly in Gauteng where there is still a high number of cases,” the RTMC said.
It said the online booking system provides a benefit to South Africans “who would previously have to queue from the early hours of the morning in an attempt to access services, and more often than not get turned away later in the day with advice to try again later”.