Cape Town, 27.02.2006: The snaking queues at the gallows Hill Traffic Department, that has been a problem for several years due to the staff not being able to cope with the amount of people needing assistance. Picture: Sophia Stander reporter: Karen Dowley

I feared the worst when renewing my driver’s licence, so started early. In the end it was worse than that, says Alan Campbell.

Cape Town - My five years was up and it was time to renew my driver’s licence. I feared the worst at Gallow’s Hill, so started early. In the end it was worse than that. Here is an “executive summary” of what transpired.

* Several telephone numbers are listed in the directory – in several attempts no one answered any of them.

* No option but to go there, armed with the requirements listed in the renewal letter – full marks to the city there.

* Many carpark “attendants” greeted me upon arrival – if only our traffic police were so vigilant.

* Which queue first? There were no signs or instructions. “Enquiries”, I supposed. (A passing security guard proved most knowledgeable and helpful – he should be managing this depot.)

* Across the road to a dingy garage for photos – paid cash, but got no invoice. What about VAT? Who is running this “pop-up” business?

* Got the form from Enquiries, filled it in – where to now? Fingerprints, eye-test? On second attempt, found the right queue – a roomful.

* Eye-test was an ordeal – certificate from optician not accepted. Initially I failed, but then re-tested and passed.

* Paying proved to be the biggest challenge to my patience, which, after two hours, was wearing thin. There were 50 people waiting to be served by three cashiers out of 10 work stations.

* I eventually got my turn, armed with my fail/pass and optician certificates – what would be my fate?

* The cashier went away for 15 minutes to ensure that the requirement that I wear spectacles be taken away. Having failed the eye-test, with spectacles, I was amazed by this.

* Finally, three hours later, I was back with the parking “attendants”, with my “temporary” driver’s licence, with the advice that my new “card” would take six to eight weeks.

* The cashier advised that I would receive written notification when my new “card” was available for collection.

* No such advice was ever received, so, after two months, I called… and hung on while my beard grew. Eventually I got an answer – my card was awaiting my collection

* Overjoyed, I once again took on the parking “attendants” to get my precious “card”.

* Upon interrogation, the official, who did not assume any responsibility, told me that my card had been awaiting my collection for over a month. I should have asked for his supervisor or other responsible person, if there is such a person at Gallow’s Hill. Why no notice?

*I would ordinarily have reported this “experience” to the correct authority, but, consulting the city’s website, there is no opportunity to do so, only an e-mail address for traffic fine payment. And Gallow’s Hill do not answer their phones.

And this is the best-organised province? My old friends in the Eastern Cape are so envious. Roll on 2016 municipal elections – see who gets the nod then.

Alan Campbell


* The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Newspapers.

Cape Argus