The further extension of the grace period for motorists whose licenses have expired to 31 March 2022, is welcomed, but it is now critical that the mounting backlog of licenses needs to be processed.
Transport MEC Weziwe Tikana-Gxothiwe must get her house in order and ensure that Driving Licence Testing Centres (DLTCs) are capacitated to deal with the growing backlog.
This follows the announcement today that all learner’s licences, driving licence cards, temporary driving licences and professional driving permits that expire during the period that commenced from 26 March 2020 up to and including 31 August 2021, are deemed to be valid and their validity periods are extended for a further grace period ending on 31 March 2022.
Of the 194,528 expired licences in the Eastern Cape, 87,291 licences have not yet been renewed. This represents a 44.8% non-renewal.
The Democratic Alliance is extremely concerned about this high backlog, as it adversely impacts on effective law enforcement.
Non-renewals are being aggravated by capacity challenges at DLTCs, which put tremendous pressure on processing renewals, as well as issues with the eNatis system.
This is being further exacerbated by corrupt officials entrusted with the online booking system, who block slots and sell these to those prepared to pay bribes.
The department should be looking at extending operating hours of DLTCs, to include operating on Saturdays and Sundays, as has been done in Nelson Mandela Bay under DA Councillor, Mayor Nqaba Bhanga.
The MEC and her Department have been extended another lifeline, but it is vital that this time be used to sort out the bottlenecks, such as fast-tracking the finalisation of the use of private optometrists to provide eye tests. The MEC needs to address the capacity challenges at DLTCs and address the backlog.
We cannot keep relying on the extension of the grace period for expired licenses.