Transport minister says renewal backlog is on track and March 31 remains the cut-off date
Transport minister Fikile Mbalula says the grace period to renew expired driving licence cards will not be extended beyond the end of March despite protests at driving licence testing centres (DLTCs) causing further backlogs.
The protests are the latest crisis affecting the renewal of licence cards after the closure of DLTCs due to Covid-19, faulty equipment and systems and corruption where officials sold online block bookings for bribes. The backlog was worsened by the breakdown of the only machine able to print the cards, which is back in action after being sent overseas for repairs.
Speaking yesterday in Akasia, Pretoria north, Mbalula said government has increased capacity with the Waterfall and Centurion centres and remains on track to clear the renewal backlog. He noted that as of February 25, 401,13 cards had been produced and the backlog, which only relates to those who have lodged renewal applications, stands at 534,807.
In August Mbalula extended the grace period for the renewals to March 31 due to the backlog. All learner’s licences, driving licence cards, temporary driving licences and professional driving permits that expired between March 26 2020 and August 31 2021 are deemed to be valid until the end of March.
Despite calls for the deadline to be extended, Mbalula stood firm.
“We are increasing our capacity, so the backlog will not be an issue. I am making a call for people to go out and renew their cards, because we won’t extend the grace period,” Mbalula told reporters while struggling to be heard over the group protesting outside.
Last week the National Driving School Association of SA embarked on a protest after the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) introduced new features on the online licence booking system.
A court interdict brought by the RTMC against the protesters has failed to stop the disruptions.
A number of motorists have also complained of problems with the online registration system but Makhosini Msibi, CEO of the RTMC, says the system is functional and slots are available.
“The system was upgraded so that people can book from their homes. Those who do not have access to the internet can go to a DLTC kiosk for assistance and do not necessarily have to use a driving school to get a slot,” he said.