Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has extended the grace period for the renewal of expired driving licences to March 31, 2022 due to a huge backlog.
MOTORISTS frustrated by the online system to book appointments to renew their driving licences will be pleased to know that their expired cards will remain valid until the end of March next year.
Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula said this extension would benefit motorists whose driving licences expired from March 26 last year when the lockdown was implemented and Driving Licence Testing Centres (DLTC) had to be closed.
This resulted in a serious backlog where nationally at least 1.2 million licences were still not renewed out of a total of 2.8 million expired licences by the end of the previous week.
Moreover, frustrations with the introduced online system of booking appointments to renew driving licences saw many motorists crying foul and calling for an extension as they could not secure appointments.
It was discovered that some officials in these centres manipulated the system to take appointments and sell them for their own benefit.
Mbalula said the government conducted an assessment of the quantum of the backlog and evaluated the challenges motorists experienced in the process to renew their licences and also considered other factors such as the impact of a further extension as well as law-enforcement capacity to ensure the rule of law prevails at all times.
He said Gauteng accounted for the highest number of licences not yet renewed at 437,819 out of a total of 980,038 expired licences. This was a 44.6% non-renewal.
“We remain concerned at this high backlog as it adversely impacts on effective law-enforcement. We are, however, more concerned about the reasons that give rise to this state of affairs which include capacity challenges which put tremendous pressure on DLTCs in processing renewals of driving licences.”
Other identified challenges included corruption of officials entrusted with the system, where online booking was used, who block slots and sell these to those prepared to pay bribes; slow speed and unavailability of the eNatis system causing frustrations for officials and motorists renewing their licences; faulty live capture units resulting in long queues at DLTCs; faulty eye-testing equipment; and delays in validating fingerprints as live capture units are not linked to Home Affairs real time.
Mbalula said: “In order to give motorists a fair opportunity to renew their licences, while we are rolling out a number of measures to improve efficiencies and resolve challenges, we have decided to extend further the grace period for the renewal of licences.
“All learner licences, driving licence cards, temporary driving licences and professional driving permits that expired during the period that commenced from March 26 in 2020 up to and including August 31 this year are deemed to be valid and their validity periods are extended for a further grace period ending on March 31 next year.”