The motorists said they had started queuing at the offices east of Pretoria from before sunrise. They reacted with frustration and anger at being subjected to very long waiting times, as most of them said they were forced to go to Waltloo after the Centurion Licensing Service Centre stopped offering some essential services.
Some of them, who drive public vehicles, complained that they could not get their Public Driving Permits at Centurion. They were referred to the already packed Waltloo office, which is bearing the brunt of the lack of services at several City licensing offices.
Others complained that the Centurion office was offering almost nothing for motorists, including a lack of scheduling of appointments for documentation for learners and drivers. Others complained about the online registration system, and those non-technologically inclined or who didn’t own computers and smartphones described the online registration as biased and prejudiced.
'Rude and unhelpful'
An Eersterust taxi driver, who didn’t want to be named, said the online registration was designed to suit more privileged people. “They know very well that some taxi drivers are not technologically savvy, yet they implement this on us,” he said.
Thabiso Mogale, from Centurion, said he spent just about the whole day there trying to renew his driving licence. “I spent most of the time waiting for the eye test," he said, "and when it came to my turn to do the eye test, it was nearly home time so they were rushing and became rude and unhelpful.”
A pregnant woman, from Montana, who went to collect her licence, ridiculed the service, saying that provision for them was not made. “According to the law, first preference is supposed to be given to the elderly, disabled and pregnant, but not here,” she complained.
Roxanne van Harn said that after three attempts and being chased away by officials after they cut the queues, she was disappointed at the poor service. “I came here to collect my renewed driving licence for the third time today. I have been here since 7am. Electricity went off and then we were told to go home. We stayed until the lights came back on again, and now we are still here,” she said late on Monday afternoon.
Godrich Philane was there very early again on Monday. He said he was sick and tired of being turned away after the queue was cut off. A long line snaked outside the centre by 10am when a team from the Pretoria News arrived. An estimated 200 people were waiting in the queue. Some motorists had brought blankets and flasks, saying they were armed against the wet and chilly weather, while others read books.
And as motorists made allegations of corruption at the centre, the Pretoria News observed it first hand, when a man approached a reporter and claimed to be working with an official inside the licensing department.
He offered fast-tracked services for the right amount, before noticing a camera and then walking away. Motorists who spend hours in the queues there said the practice was widespread. They said people claiming to be 'runners' for the Tshwane Metro Police Department tried to solicit bribes for speedy service.
There are also regular faces in and around the centre trying to solicit a bribe,” an ID photographer at the centre said.
'It has become the norm here'
Licensing woes for City residents are not a new thing. Over the years, the Centurion, Waltloo and Akasia offices have experienced problems. These have ranged from offices being broken into, equipment malfunctioning and the resultant running around of motorists, who often complain of the queues being cut off after a certain number have been serviced, or, at times, general lethargy from “overwhelmed” staff.
The City promised to look into the problem. No one had responded by the time of going to press on monday night.