New online system was meant to make renewing vehicle licences easy in Cape Town, but a technical problem has left motorists frustrated. File photo: Sxc.hu

Cape Town - The City of Cape Town has conceded that its new service offering online renewal of motor vehicle licences has been hampered by a technical problem.

Customers had complained that queries to the website, which was launched in May to give customers 24-hour access to the municipality’s various pay points, took more than two weeks to process.

Motor vehicle licence renewals is one of several services offered on the new site. The council says that customers can also use it to report problems with their street lights or meter queries, deal with municipal accounts, pay traffic fines or register their pets.

Ian Neilson, mayoral committee member for finance, said the turnaround time for payment advice was three working days, if all the necessary documentation was correct.

“However, due to an IT technical problem, where an IT exchange server upgrade took place two weeks ago, it impacted on the receipt and sending of motor vehicle registration e-mails from and to customers which caused these delays.”

LEFT IN THE LURCH

Gideon Nieuwoudt of Durbanville registered with the online system on June 17 so that he could renew his car licence. He received an e-mail the following day saying that the system had found that his address had changed. As requested, Nieuwoudt filled in the required form and sent a copy of his ID and proof of address that day. He received an automated notification of receipt.

“Since then I haven’t heard anything back, despite numerous follow-up e-mails and a phone call,” he said.

Nieuwoudt was eventually told that there was no record of his proof of address or the form requesting that his details be updated. He duly resubmitted his information and again received an automated response. Nevertheless, on Monday, the website listed his application status as “pending customer action”, despite his repeated submissions of information.

“My biggest dilemma is that I work during the day and cannot go to the municipality and pay my fee.

“I have been able to pay via EFT before, but for some reason this year it has become an immensely difficult thing to do. I cannot pay via post either because I never received a renewal notice.”

Nieuwoudt has reached the end of his tether with the electronic option, and has decided to pay at one of the council offices. “I honestly just want to pay my account. But I’m not getting any help from the City of Cape Town to do so.”

The latest response to Nieuwoudt on the municipality’s Facebook page is: “Please call our call centre for more information or, when you have the time, visit one of our walk in offices to renew your licence. Thank you.” The message appears to contradict the reason for setting up the online portal.

PROBLEM RESOLVED?

Neilson said yesterday the website’s technical problem had been resolved and all new applications would receive a payment reference.

“The city apologises for any inconvenience to residents as a result of the technical problems during this time,” he said, adding that officials were “working tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure that the teething problems… are addressed… to ensure that motorists can enjoy a user-friendly e-system.”

Neilson said applications that were made in time, and then delayed because of the technical hiccup, would be considered on merit and back-dated to the date of initial application so that motorists would not incur penalties for late payment.

Cape Argus

Follow IOL Motoring on Twitter