It's been just over a year since the country went into lockdown in March 2020, and since renewing vehicle, and especially driving licences, have become an absolute nightmare.
What's more, and somewhat alarming, is that the 31 August deadline for those who had driving licences expired between 26 March and 31 December, only have a few months to do so - myself included!
I urge all motorists to renew their driving licences as soon as possible and not wait until the final hour to do so. Five months are going to fly by in the blink of an eye. Of course, it's not too difficult a process if you're a motorist outside of Gauteng - and apparently Port Elizabeth now too - as walk-in appointments could see you getting your application in a matter of hours or one day in any other part of the country. If you're in an area around Johannesburg or Pretoria, it's a whole different ball game.
Our mailbox has seen an influx of Wheels24 readers once again complain about not getting a slot for the last couple of months. There are no slots available, and no one has the time to physically sit and hit refresh the entire day to try and get a slot that might just randomly become available - this, according to some readers, seems to be the only way of getting a booking.
The saddest part is, an entire year has come and gone, and not a single thing has been done about the problematic Natis online booking system. Absolutely nothing has changed to improve or streamline this process. The biggest problem is that this system was a failure long before the pandemic hit, and it indeed wasn't working then. What's even more disconcerting is the fact that the Aarto Act will be implemented in July, and there'll be thousands of people facing a dire dilemma. Things will only improve once the system changes, and I just can't fathom why it is not being done.
Those who need to renew their driving licence cards need to remember that you would also need a temporary licence in the meantime. Technically, this does not make sense if you're still within the allocated amnesty period before 31 August (if your licence expired between 26 March and 31 December) because driving with a lockdown expired licence means you should be exempt from having to fork out more money for a temporary one. However, I'd much rather pay the extra R45 fee than trying to explain that to a traffic official who might just stop you in a roadblock or routine traffic check.
Wheels24 reader Pieter Rostoll says: "I have been trying for about three months now to make a booking for a learner's licence to change my licence from Code B to EB.
"I have had no luck in booking an appointment at all with nothing available for months now in my surrounding area.
"I find this frustrating. As a working individual, I simply cannot hang around on the website refreshing every five minutes to see if anything becomes available. And then when something does, when you try and book the time slot, it immediately gives you an error that the slot has already been booked.
Sadly, I no longer have any new advice or even good news, but please find some troubleshoot solutions to the Natis online booking system here from one of our previous articles. Please keep trying, because before you'll know it, August will be here and there'll be all sorts of problems then. Other than that, F5 on your computer will have to be your best friend until you can get that booking.