Johannesburg - Three months down the line, the majority of motorists are still not getting vehicle licence renewal letters, and the Automobile Association is fielding numerous queries daily as to what to do about it.
Apparently the problem revolves around the control of the electronic National Traffic Information System, which is currently managed by company called Tasima. In December 2015 the Supreme Court of Appeal overturned an earlier High Court ruling that Tasima hand over the system to the Department of Transport and the Road Traffic Management Corporation.
In the commotion surrounding these legal proceedings, everybody said somebody else was responsible for sending out renewal reminders and, not surprisingly, nobody sent them out - although, as the AA has pointed out, three months later this is no longer an excuse.
Without a reminder, most people don't remember to renew their vehicle licence until they get a fine for driving with an expired disc. Then not having the renewal reminder to hand complicates the whole process out of all proportion, and results in unnecessary delays, wherever you try to renew your licence.
You now have to complete a renewal form before having your application dealt with; a process that was previously streamlined by issuing the renewal form with all the relevant details correctly set out.
Despite these issues, the South African Post Office has assured the AA that it is processing applications.
In a written reply to an AA query, the Post Office noted: "We have experienced occasional incidences where the eNaTIS network has been offline, and each time we have to notify Tasima to sort out the problem because the vehicle licence renewal system operates on a separate IT platform to the Post Office.
"If you haven't received a renewal reminder you can get a renewal form at the Post Office, and complete it there and then. The details you need are on the old disc, in your ID book and on your proof of address - all of which you should have with you.”
According to the Post Office, proof of residence can be a municipal services, clothing or telephone account - landline or cellphone. If the account isn't in your name, you'll also need an affidavit from the person in whose name it is, stating that you live there.
The Post Office has admitted that it wasn't ready for the sheer number of motorists who have needed to renew their vehicle licence without having received a reminder. As a result, some Post Office branches have run out of renewal forms, although the Post Office says it is distributing more forms as promptly as possible to speed up the renewal process at each branch.
THE REAL PROBLEM
That's all very well, but the AA maintains that the root cause of the problem, which is the lack of reminder notices, needs to be tackled proactively.
"All efforts by the Department of Transport, both nationally and locally, need to be intensified to unblock this problem," it said. "Excessive delays in renewing their vehicle licence discs may frustrate some motorists to the point where they give up, resulting in many more unlicenced cars on the road."
The AA has also advised motorists, from their side, to check their licence discs themselves and note when they will expire, rather than being reminded by traffic officers, who seem to be focussing their efforts on checking for expired licence discs.
"It's a good idea is to put a reminder on your cellphone to warn you when the licence disc is up for renewal," said an AA spokesman. "Whether you get a reminder in the mail or not, renewing your licence is still your responsibility."
Wherever you go to renew your vehicle licence - municipal offices or a Post Office branch - remember to take identification with you, along with proof of residence and the old disc.
You can get a renewal form onsite to fill out before going in, or download it in advance from the eNaTIS website .