Rustenburg - The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) has called on Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula to extend the deadline for all expired driving licence cards.
Executive director Stefanie Fick said thousands of motorists were still struggling to have their expired driving licence cards renewed.
“We believe the minister (Mbalula) needs to extend this 31 March deadline and take into account that he has to consider the 10-year licence renewal period and its impact on the current situation,” Fick said.
“We strongly feel that a 10-year licence renewal period should apply to all driver’s licence cards in current circulation, meaning that all driver’s licence cards should have five years added onto the current expiry date.
“If this were the case, then the 31 March expiry date becomes obsolete, and the country can move on without having to attend to the current mess unfolding.”
According to Mbalula’s own admission, said Fick, there was still a backlog of 534 000 driving licence cards waiting to be printed and that there had been 3 641 transactions over the last 16 days.
"Although the minister says the backlog will be cleared in time, Outa is sceptical of the administration’s capacity to do this.
“Furthermore, Outa believes that there is an unknown number – believed to be hundreds of thousands – of more motorists with expired licence cards who have been unable to access the renewal system and will not meet the deadline of 31 March 2022, which applies to licence cards that expired between 26 March 2020 and 31 August 2021 during the pandemic lockdown period.
“There is also the question of those motorists whose cards expired after 1 September 2021, who have also been caught up in the current chaos of the backlog and receive no help.”
Fick said that in Gauteng in particular, motorists had struggled to access the electronic system to book a slot to get their licences renewed, and this week protests by driving schools over the failed system gave rise to centres being shut down and staff feeling threatened.
“These protests have added another dimension to the problem which the minister cannot ignore, being that motorists have been unable to renew their licences under these dangerous conditions.”
Outa called on Mbalula to extend the current March 31 deadline for expired licence card renewals and to apply his mind to a change in the regulations to have all driver’s licence card expiry and renewal dates extended to 10 years as a matter of urgency.