People stand in long queues at Akasia Licensing Centre. Pictures: Oupa Mokoena
Pretoria - City motorists have reacted with anger at being subjected to very long waiting times and arduous queueing at the Akasia licensing centre, where all city motorists have been forced to go after the indefinite closure of the Centurion and Waltloo facilities.

Saying more equipment and staff had to be recruited, motorists from across the city braved the chilly weather and waited outside, queuing to access services, including renewing their licences.

First in line was Philemon Masombuka, who said he was sick and tired of being turned away after the cut-off numbers at the centre had been reached.

“I was cut off twice from the line so I decided to wake up super early today.”

Masombuka, who lives in Silverton, got up at 3am to travel to Akasia, where he arrived at 4.30 to be at the head of the queue. The centre opens from 8am to 4pm and can only assist 200 people a day.

Riaan van Niekerk from Hercules said he had been arriving at 6am every day for three days in a row just trying to renew his licence, but each day he had to go back home empty-handed.

“I have lost three days at work because of the incredible incompetence of this licence department.”

'Unacceptable'

Sello Motau of Atteridgeville, who was 20th in the queue, said he arrived at 5.15am. On Monday he was turned away because the centre was offline.

“This is simply unacceptable and ridiculous. I’ve spent two days of my leave here,” he said.

Kimberly Watson from Equestria said she was surprised to see the long queue when she arrived at 8am.

“I think maybe I should sleep here," she said, "because the way things are going I doubt I will be assisted.”

Another resident from Faerie Glen said this was her third time queueing this week.

“On Monday they were offline," she said, "and yesterday I didn’t make the cut. Hopefully today it’s third time lucky.”

A long line already snaked outside the centre when a team from the Pretoria News arrived at 5.45am, with an estimated 120 people already waiting in the queue. Some motorists had blankets, camp chairs and flasks. Some read books while others were busy on their laptops.

The line at the Akasia Licensing Centre snaked outside the premises.

The city’s licensing blues follow three centres - Waltloo, Centurion and Rayton - remaining offline and closed for an indefinite period.

Motorists wanting to renew licences, have their eyes tested, renew vehicle discs and access other services last week flocked to the Centurion licensing department after being turned away from other departments around the city, including Waltloo, Akasia and Rayton.

But they were met with closed doors because of a burglary with computers and cameras having been stolen and operations suspended. It is not clear when they will be restored.

In June 2017 Akasia licensing centre was burgled but nothing was taken. Two people were arrested by police. The Waltloo licensing centre also had two burglaries in June, and equipment was stolen.

Service disruptions

Besides being inundated with complaints of long waiting hours and too few staff, the Centurion Centre has faced several service disruptions over the past year owing to what the city said were stolen cables and an overburdened system.

The centre has carried the bulk of motorists, but the closure has meant they have now joined the thousands who turned to Akasia when Waltloo closed down.

City spokesperson Lindela Mashigo said motorists had to bear in mind that the overcrowding was not permanent and could be the result of a “peak period” such as school holidays and parents taking leave to be with their children.

Mayoral spokesperson Sam Mgobozi encouraged motorists to use alternative licensing centres such as Bronkhorspruit and Midrand.

Pretoria News

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