Big problem with online driving licence card renewals

Although the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) launched online bookings for driving licence card renewals more than two years ago, the facility is still limited to just two provinces.

The RTMC enabled the ability to make appointments for card renewals on the eNatis website in February 2022.

Motorists still need to visit driving licence testing centres (DLTCs) to submit themselves for data capturing, eye tests, and payment of the required licencing fees.

However, by limiting the number of booking slots at each DLTC, the RTMC can ensure it has sufficient capacity to avoid motorists waiting in long queues.

Unfortunately, the feature is still only supported in two provinces — Gauteng and Eastern Cape.

Motorists who fear having to spend hours at a DLTC in one of the other seven provinces must travel a long distance to benefit from the system.

When MyBroadband previously asked the RTMC about this in September 2022, spokesperson Simon Zwane explained that the decision to support the online booking service was the prerogative of the transport MEC in each province.

“The RTMC has made the service available to all provinces and will be able to roll it out as soon as the provincial authorities indicate their readiness to have the services,” Zwane said.

“So far, Gauteng and Eastern Cape provincial departments of transports are the only ones that have taken the decision to introduce the services in their province.”

People waiting to complete their driving licence card renewal at a DLTC. Credit: MD_Photography / Shutterstock.com

MyBroadband also asked the provincial transport departments in the seven other provinces why they had not yet adopted the system. Only the Western Cape’s department responded at the time.

Transport and public works spokesperson Jandré Bakker said the province had not enrolled because of the “many challenges” the system had experienced in Gauteng.

“The department has been waiting for a report on the experience of Gauteng to assist with the decision-making process,” Bakker said.

“The report was recently received and it must still studied by departmental officials.”

In 2022, Bakker said the Western Cape had found that a walk-in approach was better than an appointment-based system in resolving the driving licence card backlog caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and the country’s only card printer breaking down.

In more recent feedback, the Western Cape transport department told MyBroadband it would only consider implementing the booking system at its DLTCs in 2025/2026.

This will only happen after it rolls out smart enrollment machines, which is envisaged for the 2024/2025 financial year.

It did not explain why it would not adopt the booking system before getting the smart enrollment machines, as Gauteng and the Eastern Cape had done.

Online booking system working very well after two years

It is true that the online facility initially had teething problems for months after its launch — including technical bugs and downtime — and often had few or no open slots available.

However, these issues seem to have been largely resolved, as many people have reported good experiences using the system in recent months.

Among them are multiple MyBroadband staff members and readers, who generally found the online booking process and in-person DLTC visits to be seamless.

The one exception we identified was a user who encountered a bug in the final step of the appointment, where the final button was greyed out and unclickable.

However, he was able to secure his appointment after restarting the booking process, which takes less than five minutes.

All of the applicants reported short wait times at the DLTCs to hand in their applications, undergo eye tests, and make their payments.

For those who had already completed their appointment, the turnaround time for the driving licence cards to be ready for collection typically ranged between four weeks and two months.

There is no shortage of booking slots, either. MyBroadband recently found over 23,000 slots available for bookings in Gauteng and about 11,600 in the Eastern Cape.

The high availability is likely due to a combination of factors — including the RTMC catching up on its renewal backlog, the introduction of a smart enrollment system that automatically pulls users’ key information from Home Affairs, and some DLTCs getting extended operating hours as late as 21:00.

In recent feedback to MyBroadband, Zwane said that other provinces had not expressed any concerns with the system but were interested in supporting the capability.

He said these provinces still had to align their internal processes before they could be onboarded.

“The RTMC is ready to assist provinces to integrate systems once the provinces are ready,” said Zwane.

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Big problem with online driving licence card renewals