File photo: African News Agency (ANA)
Durban - A plea for all drivers awaiting renewed licences to be allowed to drive without threat of prosecution this festive season has been turned down.

The DA asked KZN Transport MEC Mxolisi Kaunda to allow people to drive at this time if they could prove they had applied for the renewal of their expired licences.

The request followed a system backlog caused by a labour dispute involving licence printers that is now in its fifth month.

But the department said it could not go against the rules of the road and all drivers needed to have a valid driver’s licence or a valid temporary licence on hand at all times.

Although most people reapplied before the expiry of their licences, the delay in issuing licence cards has rendered their licences invalid.

The department has not guaranteed drivers whose licences are invalid will not be prosecuted.

DA KZN transport spokesperson Rafeek Shah said the situation was “untenable” and questioned why the government did not seek a speedy resolution in July. “Not only are law-abiding citizens being turned into felons, but many have had to take days off work and from other commitments to stand in long queues outside motor licensing centres,” he said.

Department of Transport spokesperson Ishmael Mnisi said the affected employees had agreed to resume their duties, pending the finalisation of the dispute at the General Public Service Sector Bargaining Council.

He said a contingency plan had been implemented to recover the lost production time. More than 800 000 cards had been printed with 500 000 dispatched and the backlog had been brought down to 90 000 cards - “orders prioritised for print within three weeks”, he added.

Applicants can check the status of their cards by sending their ID number to 33214.

The Mercury