There are thousands of booking slots available across numerous locations in Gauteng for those motorists looking to renew their driver’s licence cards.
For several months in 2020 and 2021, many drivers struggled to get appointments to renew their licence cards due to a significant backlog in renewals.
Although driver’s licence testing centres (DLTCs) never had a reputation for being the most efficient or corruption-free facilities, delays reached new levels due to South Africa’s Covid-19 lockdown.
With DLTCs closed for a time and people’s movement limited, a substantial backlog of unrenewed licences built up.
That forced government to repeatedly extend the validity period of licence cards that expired between 26 March 2020 and 31 August 2021 to avoid motorists getting fined for a problem that was no fault of their own.
The transport department also struggled to have cards printed and ready for collection within the typical turnaround times.
These issues were exacerbated by the breakdown of the country’s only card printing machine in early November, which added another 640,000 cards to the backlog.
In March 2022, the backlog of expired licences stood at 2.8 million, 1.2 million of which had not applied for a renewal.
Despite concerns from civil society that the backlog would still take some time to clear, the final grace period for renewals lapsed on 5 May 2022.
Transport minister Fikile Mbalula warned that government would ramp up law enforcement efforts against those who continued to drive with expired cards.
Together with the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC), the minister advised those who had already completed their renewal appointments to hold on to their receipts as proof should they be pulled over by traffic officers.
At the time, the RTMC said over a million drivers with expired cards had still not renewed them, despite slots being available.
Soon after, the Driver’s Licence Card Account (DLCA) said it expected to clear its card printing backlog by end-June 2022.
In July 2022, the RTMC confirmed the renewal backlog was cleared and said that renewing a licence should take around six weeks.
MyBroadband asked the RTMC for an update on the number of licence cards that still had to be delivered to testing centres, but it did not provide feedback by the time of publication.
Looking for slots
Many motorists who had struggled to renew their licence cards blamed technical issues on the online.natis.gov.za (eNatis) portal.
We decided to see if there were still problems with this channel and how difficult it would be to get a renewal slot in Gauteng — the province that has experienced the worst delays.
We visited the eNatis website on Monday, 22 August 2022, chose the driver’s licence card renewal option and entered the required personal information.
Initially, we struggled to get the page to load the available testing centre.
But after re-entering our details and waiting a few more moments for the page to load, the drop-down menu showed a list of available renewal sites.
We found 15,386 slots available for bookings at 30 sites within the next two weeks (22 August 2022 to 5 September 2022).
The sites with the best availability were the Waterfall Park DLTC in Midrand, Eco Park DLTC in Centurion, and the Vereeniging DLTC.
Waterfall and Eco Park first opened their doors in October 2021, when the severity of the backlog had become well-known.
The addition of DLTCs at two Gautrain stations in June 2022 also bore fruit.
When we attempted our booking, these sites added more than 2,200 slots to the mix.
Nineteen locations had no open slots available, notably Akasia, Centurion, Randburg, Boksburg, and the Vanderbijlpark DLTCs.
The table below provides a breakdown of the number of slots available for making a booking for a card renewal in Gauteng. The 19 DLTCs and other sites with no availability were excluded.
|Driver’s licence card renewal sites
|Name of site
|Number of open slots
|Midrand Gautrain Station
|Centurion Gautrain Station
|Heidelberg Registering Authority
|Midrand Gautrain Offices
|Roodepoort Grade F
|Kungwini Local Municipality
|Total available slots