Johannesburg - Motorists have not received notifications that their vehicle licence discs are up for renewal because the department of transport didn't pay its Post Office bills.
This was revealed in Parliament when the DA's spokesman on transport, Manny de Freitas, asked minister Dipuo Peters why the licence renewal notices were not being sent out. Peters replied that “the delay is due to non-payment of Post Office outstanding fees”.
De Freitas said he had received many complaints countrywide about the issuing of vehicle licence renewal notices and he had been trying to get an answer about what the problem was - without success, until the reply in Parliament.
“In the meantime, motorists have received fines for driving with expired licence discs, through no fault of their own,” he said.
Spokesman for the Post Office Khulani Qoma said it was not in a position to comment regarding the road transport authorities “as we are currently engaging the department of transport on these matters”.
The Automobile Association has received numerous queries about what steps motorists can take to resolve this issue and described licensing departments as “chaotic” because of the situation.
“Our experience is that the bulk of motorists who should be receiving licence renewal letters are not,” it said.
The association added that there were unnecessary delays without these renewal reminders, because motorists now had to fill in a green renewal document before their application could be processed.
The Star visited the licensing department in Langlaagte, Johannesburg, to see if there were any delays in getting licence discs due to the lack of notifications sent out.
The department has a car licence drive-through, which is meant to make the process quick and easy.
However, every car we saw driving through was obliged to stop so that the driver could get out and fill in the green renewal forms, making the process far from quick.
The extra paperwork also suited the touts who were hanging around and offering to help motorists fill in the extra documents, at a fee. Many motorists, who had not brought photocopies of their paperwork, had to walk across Main Reef Road and pay for copies of their ID books to be made.
“This is causing a lot of delay,” said one woman, who, after filling in all the forms, was told to go to another building to complete the process.
Another man said his friend had to get his licence renewed but could not come himself because of the extra time it took, so he had offered to come and do it for him.
“I thought the Post Office was on strike, and that’s why we didn’t get the notifications,” the man said.
The AA said the Post Office had informed them that there had been incidents at Post Office branches “where demand for the renewal forms surpassed our supply”.
The AA called for the department of transport to sort out the problem as soon as possible because the excessive delays in renewing vehicle licences could result in a large number of unlicensed cars on the road.
The AA advised motorists to check their licence discs to see when they expire and to take identification and proof of address when going to renew their licence.
Justice Project South Africa chairman Howard Dembovsky said the department of transport needed to pay its bills on time, as it could not expect the public to pay their e-tolls when it itself was behind in its payments.
And they expect motorists to pay their e-tolls.