The driving licence deadline may require further extension
Hundreds of thousands of motorists are still struggling to have their expired driving licence cards renewed and OUTA believes the Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula is trying to deflect the administration chaos onto the public, instead of taking ownership within the department.
OUTA calls for the Minister to extend the deadline for all those who have expired licence cards, as this is an administrative problem, and to speed up the decision on whether to extend the validity period for the cards from five years to 10 years, or not.
“We believe the Minister needs to extend this 31 March deadline and take into account that he has to consider the 10-year licence renewal period and its impact on the current situation,” says Advocate Stefanie Fick, OUTA’s executive director.
“We strongly feel that a 10-year licence renewal period should apply to all driver’s licence cards in current circulation , meaning that all driver’s licence cards should have five years added onto the current expiry date. If this were the case, then the 31 March expiry date becomes obsolete, and the country can move on without having to attend to the current mess unfolding.”
The Minister has said there is still a backlog of 534 000 driving licence cards waiting to be printed and that there have been 3 641 transactions over the last 16 days. Although the Minister says the backlog will be cleared in time, OUTA is sceptical of the administration’s capacity to do this. Furthermore, OUTA believes that there is an unknown number – believed to be hundreds of thousands – of more motorists with expired licence cards who have been unable to access the renewal system and will not meet the deadline of 31 March 2022, which applies to licence cards that expired between 26 March 2020 and 31 August 2021 during the pandemic lockdown period. There is also the question of those motorists whose cards expired after 1 September 2021, who have also been caught up in the current chaos of the backlog and receive no help.
In Gauteng in particular, motorists have struggled to access the electronic system to book a slot to get their licences renewed. Furthermore, this week protests by driving schools over the failed system gave rise to centres being shut down and staff feeling threatened. “These protests have added another dimension to the problem which the Minister cannot ignore, being that motorists have been unable to renew their licences under these dangerous conditions,” says Fick.
In August last year, the Minister said there were 2.8m expired licence cards with 1.2m of them not renewed. There is no current update on the number of expired cards which have not gone through the renewal process.
OUTA calls on Minister Mbalula to extend the current 31 March 2022 deadline for expired licence card renewals and to apply his mind to a change in the regulations to have all driver’s licence card expiry and renewal dates extended to 10 years as a matter of urgency.
A soundclip with comment by Advocate Stefanie Fick is here.