People queue at the Waltloo licensing centre. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency(ANA)
People queue at the Waltloo licensing centre. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency(ANA)

Online licensing booking system slammed

By Goitsemang Tlhabye Time of article published Mar 3, 2021

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Pretoria - The National Driving School Association of South Africa has pledged to take its demands for the upgrading or outright scrapping of the online booking system to the National Department of Transport if needs be.

Its members protested at the Waltloo licensing centre last week, demanding the system either be upgraded or scrapped.

Greg Sehlapelo, assistant general-secretary for the association, said the system did not take into consideration that many residents lived in remote areas, had limited knowledge of navigating the online system or could not afford connectivity.

Sehlapelo said when the online booking system was introduced as a pilot project in 2018, they initially had no issues with it apart from the fact there had been minimal consultation with those in the transport sector and the public.

He said the problems started as soon as walk-in bookings at the centres were stopped altogether.

“We understood that going online was designed to avoid the queueing hassles that had people standing out there all day. But when you close the stations, who will help the elderly with online or those who can’t afford data?

“Another issue is that the system crashes often as it was not built to handle the large volumes of people applying for their learners and other booking needs.”

Sehlapelo said it did not make sense that they could only book online and yet had to queue at a testing station to pay for the booking.

As of 2018, Department of Transport and Road Traffic Management Corporation introduced online booking for learners' and drivers' licence tests, renewal of driving licence cards, and public driving permits.

Gauteng motorists could no longer walk into a testing centre and book for licences.

It was envisaged that online booking would reduce queues at centres once the system was fully implemented nationwide.

However, vehicle owners and driving schools have been frustrated by a backlog in the online booking system. Applicants said they struggled to get online slots.

Sehlapelo said it was for this reason that they were calling for further extensions for expiring learners’ licences.

In Tshwane, MMC for Roads and Transport Dikeledi Selowa said they were doing their bit to offer solutions to the woes experienced by local customers.

Selowa said they had sent letters to the provincial department regarding similar concerns raised by the association, as they believed and understood that the system had its fair share of problems.

She said it was indeed slow and crashed often, and slots for bookings were not uploaded timeously.

She said the one option they had requested was for a hybrid system to be looked into to ensure the elderly and those who could not afford data be assisted by on-hand staff instead.

Alternatively, the City asked for a small kiosk to be opened for walk-in bookings, and for the department to look to having either Saturday or Sunday dedicated to e-hailing, emergency services and taxi services to get up to date with their licensing needs.

“We’ve been aware of the issues plaguing the system, hence we are trying to find innovative ways to deal with the problem. We also plead with people not to relax because they see the extension has been moved to August.

“The sooner people get their licensing needs addressed before the deadline, the fewer problems and inconveniences we’ll have to deal with in addressing the backlog, and have all Tshwane drivers on the road with the right documents.”

Pretoria News

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