• According to the Department of Transport, DLTCs will dedicate 70% capacity to driving licence renewals.
• The new directive is a bid to assist the strained backlog of expired driver licences.
• For more motoring stories, go to Wheels24.
Gauteng motorists have been battling for months and have been struggling to book online appointments to renew drivers' licences or book new licence appointments for more than four months. Now, it seems the government has heeded to desperate calls and has decided to take action.
According to a press release by the Department of Transport, the Gauteng Driving Licence Testing Centres (DLTCs) will from Monday (16 November) dedicate 70% of their capacity to driving licence renewals to address current backlogs.
Wheels24 readers have inundated our mailboxes with distressed letters of their experiences and troubles not being able to book appointments. Many readers have been logging on to the online eNatis system at random hours or the day and night, as suggested by the RTMC, in a bid to book a slot to no avail.
We have also published numerous letters from the public, especially senior citizens, who have been made to stand in endless queues for hours, only to be told to come back the following week. This after the RTMC also announced that elderly citizens over the age of 60 years do not need an online appointment and will be assisted on Wednesdays only.
Gauteng Public Transport and Roads Infrastructure MEC, Jacob Mamabolo said: "Working together with all the stakeholders, the province will ensure that 70% of all slots made available to the DLTCs will be dedicated exclusively to processing driving licence renewals on a daily basis.
"We have also taken a decision that available capacity in the DLTCs, such as equipment, machinery and staff will be dedicated to addressing the backlog in driving licences renewals."
However, it will come as no surprise if motorists are doubtful about this new development. In a bid to implement this new directive, Mamabolo said on Wednesday (11 November) that DLTC managers who undermine this new instruction will face a possible suspension. How the latter will be implemented, also remains to be seen.
A Provincial Management Operations Centre will be established to monitor the activities of DLTCs daily to ensure that the decisions taken at the meeting are implemented, according to the release.
"There will also be a dedicated team to maintain and service the equipment and machinery that is used to process the driving licenses renewals on a regular basis," Mamabolo also said.
As of December, the department also said it would commence with a forensic investigation into allegations of corruption, bribery and collusion reportedly taking place at DLTCs across the province. Many of our Wheels24 readers have explained how DLTC officials have offered them appointment slots if they were to pay a certain amount of money.
"While the current Covid-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on the driving licence renewals backlog, it has also laid bare the fact that over the years, the DLTCs have not been functioning optimally," said Mamabolo.
He said the centres' capacity had not been increased to match the demand and the pressure brought by the growing population.
"However, we are confident that with the decisions we have taken, we will be able to address the backlogs."
Mamabolo added that the department would be piloting the use of mobile units, in partnership with Road Traffic Management Corporation, to increase the capacity of the facilities and provide a better service to communities.
"We are aware of the frustration that driver's licence holders, who want to renew their cards, have been experiencing. We are taking extraordinary measures to deal with the backlog," said Mamabolo.
We have contacted the RTMC to enquire about the processes for senior motorists over the age of 60 on Wednesdays, and if licence centres will now be open seven days a week. We'll update the information as soon as we receive a response.