The Automobile Association (AA) has called on Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula to extend the validity of all licences beyond the 30 August deadline, or face a situation where many thousands of motorists do not have the necessary legal driving documents.
In a letter to the Minister’s office on Monday (attached hereto), AA CEO Willem Groenewald notes that the current extension period only covers those driving licences which expired before the end of May.
“Any licences which expire in June or July may have an immediate 21-day grace period, but there are problems which make it difficult for these drivers to renew licences within that time,” Mr Groenewald writes.
He says the current National Traffic Information System (NaTIS) continues to be problematic, including the lack, or limited availability, of slots. He also notes that some centres may still be closed as a result of COVID-19 infections among staff.
“Our experience is that the majority of drivers in South Africa prefer to remain compliant with the regulations, and to be on the road legally. Although the system is often problematic, drivers take the necessary steps to ensure they remain within the law. However, given the current constraints on the system, many are faced with the real possibility that they may not be able to do this,” Mr Groenewald says.
The AA has called for a further extension beyond the end of August to the end of January 2021, which it says it a more feasible option.
According to Mr Groenewald, “This extension also makes provision for the closure of DLTCs over the festive period, and for further potential closures as a result of COVID-19”.
As an alternative to an extension, the AA has also urged the Minister to consider allowing third party agents – such as the AA – to perform licensing renewal services which are currently only offered through the DLTCs.
“Not only will this go a long way in dealing with the current and historical backlogs it will also alleviate the pressure on the DLTC infrastructure going forward,” concludes Mr Groenewald.