Like so many things, poor time and planning management mean that South Africans who need to renew their driver’s licences – particularly in the bigger metros – will have to wait up to six months or longer. This story, from the My Broadband Tech site, explains in detail what went wrong. From the existing backlog tables, it seems Northern Cape and the North-West Province drivers may wait the shortest time, but if you calculate the licence card printing capacity of SA’s single outdated machine, the wait for other South Africans could be a minimum of six months. Just heaven forfend the traffic cop who stops you and demands your potentially by-then expired driver’s licence is clued up and briefed on the current situation by his superiors. Otherwise, it’s easy to imagine yourself waiting outside your local traffic court before 9am (which is when the magistrate walks in), to plead with the prosecutor, who will hopefully scrap any fines issued by ignorant cops. – Chris Bateman
South Africa’s transport minister Fikile Mbalula has announced that the country’s new driving licence card is expected to launch a year later than planned.
A Driving Licence Card Account (DLCA) tender to upgrade South Africa’s driving licence system had set an October 2022 launch deadline, but Mbalula said he expects the new system to be piloted in October 2023.
The launch of the new licence cards will be subject to cabinet approval, after which the Department of Transport will undergo a procurement process.
During his address on Thursday, 3 February 2022, Mbalula said the new card would feature several security improvements allowing it to be used as an alternative form of identification.
Banks do not currently accept driving licences as a form of ID, partly because your full name is not printed on the card.
Mbalula said that the current driver’s licence card would be phased out over five years. He added that the Road Traffic Management Corporation was looking into extending South Africa’s licence card renewal period from five to ten years.
The extension of the validity period is something that the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) had suggested as a solution to the current backlog.
“This would alleviate the current backlog overnight,” Wayne Duvenage, CEO at Outa, said.
South Africa faced a backlog of nearly 400,000 driver’s licence renewals at the start of December 2021, following the breakdown of the country’s only licence card printing machine.
According to Mbalula, the total backlog of driver’s licences that will have expired by 31 March currently stands at 2.1 million nationwide and is expected to climb to 2.9 million by September 2022.
The DLCA has revealed that it can currently produce just over 400,000 licence cards per month at maximum capacity.
Its card printing machine broke down in November last year after flooding in a building adjacent to the Government Printing Works caused a power surge. The DLCA sent it to Germany for repairs.
At the time, Mbalula announced that South Africa would be getting a new printing machine and new driver’s licences.
“The machine that produces driver’s licences is the old machine. No other country in the world is still using that machine,” Mbalula said. “That is why we are producing a new card.There is going to be a new card and a new machine, which is at par with the developed world,” Mbalula added.
The current machine was returned to South Africa in late January and will continue to be used until the five-year phasing out period concludes.
South Africans living in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, and the Western Cape represent the biggest proportion of the current backlog, making up 35%, 16%, and 13%, respectively. The driver’s licence backlog in each province is summarised in the table below.
|Driver’s licence backlog|
|Total backlog: 2,128,910|
- SA’s driver’s licence debacle – OUTA’s Duvenage explains what is behind the chaos
- Outa slams Department of Transport as driver’s license saga unravels
- Driver’s licence SNAFU – lessons from New Zealand
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