Don't force motorists to defy the law
The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) calls on the Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula, to extend the deadline for renewing driving licences that expired between 26 March and 31 December 2020.
The deadline of 31 August 2021 is fast approaching, but government seems to be unmoved by the plight of thousands of motorists who have been battling to renew their driving licences. These motorists will be forced to disobey the law if government is unwilling to grant another extension on the deadline for renewal.
The Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) recently acknowledged that there is a significant backlog when it comes to the renewal of driving licences.
OUTA has received numerous complaints from motorists, highlighting the frustration encountered when attempting to renew a driving licence. Frustrations with the licence renewal system have been around for a couple of years now – especially in Gauteng – and existed before the Covid-19 pandemic, although the pandemic certainly exacerbated the problem.
While government has blamed the pandemic for the inefficiencies in the renewal process as well as motorists not renewing in time, the real underlying problems of administrative inefficiencies existed prior to the pandemic. This includes an ineffective online booking system, broken eye testing and fingerprinting machines and corruption. This was made worse by Covid-19 lockdowns and reduced capacity in Driver Licence Testing Centres due to Covid-19 restrictions.
“We find it preposterous that government expect citizens to be law-abiding on driving licences when the very process they are expected to follow is defunct, ineffective and broken,” says OUTA’s CEO Wayne Duvenage.
Duvenage says that, in a modern world, governments are supposed to implement efficient processes that make it easier for citizens to comply with laws. “Instead, our government seems unconcerned with the frustrations that motorists are experiencing when trying to book tests for new licences or for licence renewals.” He adds that motorists cannot take the blame for gross inefficiencies that should have been addressed by the Department of Transport a long time ago.
“The broken system that government is relying on has not been addressed since the state introduced an eight-month extension to licence renewal deadlines, and they will have no option but to extend the 31 August 2021 deadline again,” says Duvenage.
OUTA believes that the current driving licence problem is an extension of the Department of Transport’s inability to get on top of a myriad of administrative and other issues relating to the motoring public, including the defunct e-toll scheme, the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act (AARTO), the inaccurate eNaTIS vehicle registry system, unroadworthy vehicles, high road fatalities and the Road Accident Fund debacle.
In OUTA’s opinion, the state needs to engage meaningfully with all stakeholders to find practical solutions to the current driving licence renewal process. One of the most practical suggestions proposed by OUTA in recent months is to extend the period of validity for renewed driving licences from five to 10 years, which is a process applied in many countries around the world.
In the meantime, OUTA urges motorists to do everything they can to renew their driving licences before the extension period lapses on 31 August 2021.
Voice note by Wayne Duvenage here.