Driving with J9 | Dear RTMC, please fix the eNatis system, bring back walk-in appointments?

Image: Wheels24 reader Hermione Hurwitz
Image: Wheels24 reader Hermione Hurwitz
Hermione Hurwitz

• Gauteng motorists are battling to book online licence appointment with eNatis

• Motorists in Centurion are particularly battling to find online slots.

• The January deadline is fast approaching and there is still a terrible backlog of expired licences.

• For more motoring stories, go to www.Wheels24.co.za

Telling motorists to log on to the eNatis system for random slots is not the answer. How will the RTMC fix the mess that is the online booking system?

My heart bleeds for all our readers who have been asking for help; those sharing their stories have been battling for several months to try and get an online appointment. The truth is, the eNatis has long been a proper failure way before the global pandemic even hit us.

The Road Traffic Management Corporation has even admitted to officials selling off slots at high prices, making money from citizens who are just trying to do the right thing and get their licence. Since then, the RTMC has tried to curb corruption by adding random slots and asking motorists to try logging on to the system at random hours of the day. It also makes me think if the local government can't get something as simple as an online booking system right, how on earth will Aarto be implemented in July next year? But that's another topic, for another day.

I honestly have no more sound advice to our readers who are crying out for help. These are people who want to be legally on the road before the January deadline is on our doorstep. Considering how motorists have been painfully struggling for more than three months, I don't see how this problem will be resolved within the next few weeks. There are now only three more months left for thousands of licences appointments to be made. 

South Africa has some of the most intelligent developers, after all this time, could the RTMC not have found someone to create a more simplified, and user-friendly process for motorists? 

The RTMC and the Department of Transport said earlier in October it was trying to find ways to ease the congestion, even extending operating hours at some DLTCs, also opening more slots at random times to prevent corruption. Yet, none of this is working. And yes, we're still aware we're in the middle of a pandemic and still need to adhere to Covid-19 protocols and maintain physical distancing, but somehow another solution needs to be found. 

A driver's licence. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)
Image: News24/Duncan Alfreds

The Automobile Association of SA says the vast majority of motorists in the country want to remain legally on the road and go to great lengths to get their driving licences renewed. But, it asks, what must motorists who rely on their vehicles to earn an income do if they aren't able to get these discs and cards renewed? 

"Law-abiding citizens with no alternatives must continue using their vehicles to work and are then punished because of a problem they didn't cause, by the very authorities who did," says the AA. 

In addition to placing the moratorium on fines, the AA says it has now become more than critical that alternatives to the current renewals processes are implemented.

"Not only must third-party agents such as the AA be allowed to renew driving licence cards, but the current system needs a dramatic overhaul, and quickly. There can be no doubt that the current way of doing business must change, and change now," the AA says. 

Here are some of our letters from readers who have been trying in vain to find a successful slot on the eNatis system?

Wheels24 reader Jason Judkins writes: "This is a serious nightmare. My daughter goes to university in the new year and desperately needs to get her driver's license before she goes. After spending many hours on the system unsuccessfully, I eventually approached a booking company and was prepared to pay for somebody else to get me a booking for her. After two months, the booking company themselves have admittedly given up as they are simply not getting the bookings. 

"These are people who know exactly when slots become available and how to go about getting bookings. It is honestly a disgrace, the hurdles I am having to jump through just to try and secure a booking for my daughter to take her driving license test."

Grace Ravele says: "This online booking system is not working. It's been three months; my fingerprints are ready, and doctor's letter, but there are no slots for doing my PrDP. I am tired."

Michelle Scharneck says: "Please, please stop this online booking system and let us do walk-in bookings again. "The online bookings are just a big mess. The slots are on zero daily, all day. You just can't get a booking ."Why do we have the eNatis system if it does not work? My driver's licence expired in July 2020. I have been trying for four months now; this is just ridiculous.  

Karien Jordaan writes: "The booking system has let us down as a family. Not only have we been trying without success for months to get a booking for my daughter's final license test, but also my driver's licence renewal. We live in Pretoria, and we check for dates in various centres, on a daily basis. 

"It was just as frustrating last year with her learner's test booking. The eNatis system does not make sense, causes a person to take leave off work to stand in a queue, but if they are too busy, and if you're not helped that day you have to go home and start the process from scratch!  

"The online booking system is not flexible enough, and there are not enough booking dates either. I believe spots are booked by bribes because we were offered to get a booking in 24 hours if we pay R250. We refused. 

"Now, months later, checking every single day more than once, we still can't get an open booking date. 

"My daughter almost got an open date a week ago. While she was online, all details captured, the date vanished before her eyes because someone else clicked the same date while she took a moment to check her diary before clicking through. 

"It can't be regarded as reasonable to put the public, or a driving school, in a position where personal details have to be filled in over, and over, and over again, in an attempt to book an appointment. It's ludicrous. 

"The system should allow users to register and have a profile that you can log in to, and then do what you need in terms of licensing. 

"As far as public safety is concerned, I believe this eNatis system is failing us so badly that many people are driving alone with learner's licenses because they can't get the process finalised." 

Prisca Hlatshwayo says: "I have been trying to get a slot since May 2020. I managed to get one on 9 October at Waltloo in Pretoria. Went there for my 15h00 appointment, then while waiting in the queue, we were told the system is down. We could choose to wait or come back the following day at 07:30, which was a Saturday. 

"On Saturday I went as early as 07:00, then at around 08:00 we were told by an official that no one was going to help those who came for licence renewals, and according to her, there were no scheduled appointments on Saturday. 

"This is quite frustrating as to date I am still trying to get an appointment with no luck. I wish we could be allowed to walk into any nearest traffic department and renew our licence."

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Janine Van der Post is the editor at Wheels24. If you have any queries, you can email her here.

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