Driving tests closed?

2014-11-24 00:00

THOSE planning to get their driving ­licenses this festive season will have to wait until next year.

A number of driving schools and at least two RTI officers told The Witness the ­licence and vehicle testing ground in ­Mkondeni will not be conducting learner driver tests from December 11 to January 5. The Department of Transport denied this.

One instructor claimed there was a notice placed at the station about the closure.

An RTI officer, who cannot be named because he is not allowed to officially ­comment, said the closure was to “free up” RTI officers to assist with road safety over the festive season.

The officer said that in KwaZulu-Natal the Christmas and the Easter periods were the busiest as people travel to holiday destinations or visit their families. It was also the deadliest time on the roads with ­hundreds killed every year.

Driving school operators said while they understood the need to focus on road ­safety, the closure would kill business during their busiest time of the year.

“I have been involved in the driving industry since 1972, this will be the first time that something like this will ever have ­happened,” said the source. “My school is booked fully during this period, there are school students that are coming who want to get their driver’s licence during this break. They will not be able to do so.”

The source said it was already very ­difficult for many school pupils to book for licences. “They close their offices at two o’clock, the same time that the school­ ­closes. The parents cannot book for testing on behalf of the children because the ­children have to present themselves there.”

The source said her employees will also be hard hit. “It will be a dark Christmas for many of my employees, they get paid per lesson, if the station is closed, it means there would be no lessons and therefore there is no work.”

Another operator said: “I have been in the game for 39 years; this is something that has never happened before.”

A third operator said. “This is the first time it happened. This year they want all the traffic officers on the road.”

Department of Transport spokesperson Kwanele Ncalane confused the issue more when he said there will be full services at the station. He conceded the main focus this festive season will be on the road safety.

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