The Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) has confirmed to MyBroadband that drivers whose licence cards expire between 1 September 2021 and 31 March 2022 have not been given an extension to renew their licence cards.
Transport minister Fikile Mbalula announced on Friday, 27 August 2021, that the grace period for renewing licences that expired between 26 March 2020 and 31 August 2021 was extended to 31 March 2022.
“To give motorists a fair opportunity to renew their licences, while we are rolling out several measures to improve efficiencies and resolve challenges, we have decided to extend further the grace period for the renewal of licences,” Mbalula said.
While the decision was met with relief among the thousands of motorists who could not get bookings for their new licences, there was no reprieve for numerous motorists whose licences expire within the new grace period.
Wayne Duvenhage, CEO of the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa), told MyBroadband that these drivers were now prejudiced with a system still under significant pressure.
“Many, if not most, will not be able to renew their licenses for the same reason that those who were supposed to do so in August have not been able to,” Duvenhage said.
Duvenhage stated the authorities needed to manage the situation better and provide the extension relief in a more structured manner that would not repeat the current bottlenecks.
“How these extensions have been provided has the impact of a concertina-ed effect that causes a rush at the new deadline, which includes many months of expiry dates crammed into one month,” Duvenhage said.
“What the authorities needed to do is to provide a blanket extension of all driver’s licenses, for a period of 6 months, thereby keeping the monthly pressure on the licensing offices constant, while they resolve their administrative and corruption issues,” he said.
If the issues are not fixed within six months, more extensions will be required, a situation which would make a “mockery of the State’s ability to govern”, Duvenhage said.
As a solution, Outa has also proposed that the transport department seriously consider extending the renewal period of all driver’s licenses from five to ten years.
“Our research has shown that this is common practice in many countries around the world, and the motivation to renew every five years until a specific age is unnecessary,” Duvenhage said.
He pointed out this exact change was approved in a government gazette in November 2012 published by then Minister of Transport, Dipuo Peters.
However, before the changes could be promulgated in October of 2013, the decision was reversed for reasons unknown.
“We believe the current minister Mbalula should reinstate the decision of that gazette in 2013 and allow all drivers licenses from this day forward to have five years added to the expiry period,” Duvenhage said.
“This would alleviate the current backlog overnight.”
Duvenhage said the RTMC would probably lose money from fewer excessive administration fees but believes the efficiency would reduce pressure on their administrative structures. Related costs should also be reduced.
In the long term, Outa said the government could increase compliance with the regulations by ensuring there were corrupt-free processes that enable more effective digital and walk-in appointments, which were free or at an extremely low cost.
“All touting and people walking the parking areas of Driver’s License Testing Centres should be removed, and guards should be placed at the entrances to these administration centres, to ensure the public are not accosted by people who take bribes that facilitate a fast-tracking process for licenses,” Duvenhage said.